• The economic outlook for young working Britons is not good
  • Some other countries offer lower taxes and other advantages
  • Unless things change, many young Britons will pack their bags

My colleague Nick Hubble and I have several things in common, including having had itinerant careers. Nick is multinational by birth, has lived and worked in Europe and Japan, and currently resides in Australia.

A Californian by birth, I lived and worked on the US East Coast and in multiple cities in Germany before settling here in the UK in the early 2000s.

While we have each had our specific reasons for choosing our career paths and lives generally in this way, they naturally included pursuing opportunities. Young working people, if able, tend to move to where the opportunities are.

Recently, Nick and I have both written about the chronic underperformance of the UK economy and opined about the causes and possible future consequences for today’s British youth. (My comment was titled “Britain’s ‘lost generation’”, hence the adapted title for this article.)

Nick and I appear to be in good company. In a recent article in the UK Telegraph titled “If you’re under 50, it’s time to jump ship – get out of Britain while you can”, Sam Ashworth-Hayes writes the following:

[T]he UK is not so much stagnating as it is fossilising. Fifteen years of anaemic growth means that real wages are still below their 2008 peak – there are 30y olds who have seen their entire working career go by without seeing meaningful growth in wages. The result is that countries we are used to thinking of as our peers are surging ahead.

To make matters worse, he points out “the Government’s seeming preference to change Scandinavian levels of taxes to deliver American levels of public services.”

Historical migrations are always dominated by the mobile young, rather than their elders. Hence the economic “fossilisation” described above provides a strong, so-called “push” factor for Britain’s working young to seek opportunities abroad.

But Mr Ashworth-Hayes also points out some “pull” factors that provide incentives to move, such as lower taxes, higher social mobility and more favourable demographics. However, the most compelling reason he cites is “that the UK seems incapable of solving its own issues, and if anything they look set to get worse.”

The article is certainly thought-provoking. I also recommend reading the reader comments. Almost no one disagrees with the author’s core premise; however, some do believe that the country can still be turned around.

As a father of four, I would like for my children to have some good career options at home as well as abroad. But if they believe the balance is tipped towards leaving, they will most certainly have my full support.

How about you? If you’re a parent, what sort of conversations are you having with your children on the topic? If you’re still young and starting out in your career, have you considered moving abroad? If so, to which countries? And what specific “pull” factors would you cite?

Please respond to [email protected] with your thoughts.

Until next time,

John Butler
Investment Director, Fortune & Freedom

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