What inflation means for youngsters

The dream of building your own house is “on hold for the time being,” the 27-year-old Osman tells ORF.at. In order to support the parents financially, the construction engineer, who lives in St. Pölten, has taken on the energy costs – the grocery shopping is shared at home. ORF.at also spoke to 18-year-old Mayar from Vienna: She was looking for a part-time job in gastronomy so that she could support her parents if necessary. In her circle of friends, Mayar observes that many of her friends “are now trying to make themselves more financially independent from their parents” so as not to burden the parents even more.

Gerhard Huber, Managing Director of the personnel service provider easystaff for student and part-time jobs, can also confirm that more and more young people are earning something on the side – he reports on a “record year” in terms of registrations and applications in the company’s core target group, the 18 to 30 year olds -year-olds.


In an interview with ORF.at, 18-year-old Mayar talks about inflation

How generations spend their money

The price increases do not affect everyone equally, the differences result from consumer behavior – i.e. preferences and lifestyle – explains economist Sebastian Koch from the Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS). The institute calculated the inflation rate by age group in Austria. It is important to emphasize that the calculations are average considerations for the respective population groups – the “individual inflation rate can vary greatly”, according to the expert.

The graphic below shows the spending shares in the shopping basket by age group – based on the 2019/2020 consumption survey by Statistics Austria. Koch explains: “I have high inflation rates, especially when prices rise in areas with a high share of expenses.” It is rents and expenses for transport that, according to the expert, explain the largest differences between the age groups.

Research shows that young people under 30 rent more in Austria – making them more exposed to rising rents than older generations with a higher home ownership rate. On the other hand, younger people spend less on household energy – which is reflected in age-related inflation rates right now. Younger people tend to spend a little less money on food, but a little more on leisure (such as travel) and dining out.

Students at the limit

In an interview with ORF.at, the 20-year-old student Laura (first name changed by the editors) explains the effects of the price increases on the lives of students. She worries most about the upcoming electricity and gas bills: “I just don’t know how I’ll afford it, that’s a big question mark at the moment.” Bodenkultur Wien (BOKU) studies, works part-time while studying and receives a monthly study grant of 326 euros.

Katharina Weissenböck, social policy officer at the Austrian Students’ Union (ÖH), reports on the tense financial situation of students: In the housing advice service, noticeably more students come with “existential questions” such as “I can no longer afford my apartment”. or “I have an additional payment and don’t know how to pay it,” Weissenböck told ORF.at.

“Calculated poor”

Students from third countries are particularly hard hit, as are those who work alongside their studies and have children. Weissenböck explains: “Already during the pandemic, many students lost their jobs, which meant that many students had to access reserves” and were therefore “not able to react properly to inflation,” says Weissenböck.

Students often live just below the poverty line because they usually have a low income, says social economist Karin Heitzmann, who researches poverty. For example, according to the current EU-SILC data 2021, 13 percent of all people of working age (18 to 64 years) were at risk of poverty – this means they had an equivalent annual per capita income below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold in 2020. If they were not employed and stated that they had been in training for at least six months a year, the rate was 22 percent. According to Heitzmann, it can be assumed that this group includes many students.

Save when living

In view of the current situation, Christian Bartok from the City of Vienna’s tenant help recommends that younger people in particular turn to housing advice centers because “there is often potential for savings in the area of ​​housing”. As part of the free advice and support, the savings potential can be determined by checking rental contracts, utility bills or heating cost bills – if necessary, further mediation can be given to bodies such as housing subsidies and arbitration boards for housing law matters.

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