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Older voters increasingly influenced by financially struggling younger relatives, Oxford research finds

New research from Oxford’s Nuffield Politics Research Centre, in collaboration with the Resolution Foundation, highlights that members of the older generations are increasingly motivated to support economic policies that help the younger generations, as many are personally concerned for their own family members.

In an unprecedented fashion, the research (which collected data from over 6,000 adults) reveals that for older adults, seeing the younger members of their families struggling financially is worrying. It is a key reason for them welcoming support-focussed policies which address affordable housing, free vocational education and childcare.

Researchers are calling this older, concerned group ‘Family Fortunes Voters’. They are thought to represent 17% of the electorate (people aged 40+ with younger relatives struggling financially).

This over-40s section, making up around 1-in-6 in the electorate, has not been properly identified before. However, they recognise that the younger generations need financial support and beneficial policies, even if it is at the cost of higher taxes for themselves.

Nuffield Politics Research Centre study author, Dr Zack Grant, said in a statement: “‘Understanding this group goes some way to challenging common views about political conflict between the generations. Family Fortunes Voters are a substantial ‘hidden electorate’ who look set to reward parties that improve the living standards of their loved ones, and reject those which do not.”

Moreover, co-author and Director of the Centre, Professor Jane Green, conveys that as the older generations are more and more aware of economic disparities in the country, which affect their loved ones, they are motivated to try and do something about them.

In a statement Green said: “Our findings should act as a warning to the Conservatives. A failure to raise the average level of wellbeing among younger adults may not just harm the party among Millennials and Generation Z: it might also cost them votes from their parents and grandparents.”

The research team urges people to contextualise their findings and understand that while older adults are becoming an increasingly significant part of the electorate, they care for policies that not only satisfy their needs, but those that benefit and take care of the younger generations as well.

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