Queen's International Institute on Social Policy

Queen's International Institute on Social Policy
Queen's International Institute on Social Policy

QIISP 2015 | The Millennials' Challenge: Young Adults and Intergenerational Fairness | Aug 24-26, 2015

August 24-26, 2015

Conference Agenda
[PDF 1.47MB]


In contemporary Canada, young adults feel the full weight of economic and social change. While older Canadians are often protected in many ways, the younger generation has to adjust to the economic restructuring and the new social risks that have emerged in recent decades.  QIISP 2015 focuses on the experiences, prospects and expectations of Canadians in the 18 to 35 age range.

The knowledge-based economy places greater pressure on young people to stay in education longer. Many young adults face hurdles entering the labour market, often cycling through a series of internships and short contracts. Moreover, entry-level earnings have been falling for over two decades, and this generation starts at a lower level than their parents did. They are also less likely to have the employment security and occupational benefits that their parents enjoyed.

Economic pressures have social consequences. We live in the era of postponed adulthood. Over 40% of people in their 20s live with their parents, double the rate in the 1970s. Young adults are delaying family formation, and child-rearing starts later than in previous generations. Moreover, young families, once formed, face a double squeeze: they face a cost squeeze, especially in the housing market, and a time squeeze in finding a work-family balance. 

Postponed adulthood has wider social consequences. Lower fertility rates accentuate population aging; and the declining earnings of young adults are a major reason we have made so little progress in reducing child poverty. The combination of postponed adulthood and declining entry-level wages also contribute to the problem of inadequate retirement savings among some groups of Canadians.

In the longer term, well-educated young people may benefit from labour shortages as the baby boom retires; and delayed retirement may give them more time to build their savings. But the future for important groups of young adults is less promising. Aboriginal young adults and marginalized young adults face bleaker prospects.

More generally, many young adults feel they are the victims of growing intergenerational unfairness. In comparison with previous generations, they are expected to carry an especially heavy demographic burden. They fear their problems are being ignored as governments tend to the needs of the more numerous baby-boomers, and that they will have to be much more self-reliant throughout their lives.

Canada needs this generation of young adults to be successful. Our economic and social future rests on a smaller number of shoulders than in the past.  But many of them question whether they are part of a larger social contact that includes them.

QIISP 2015 examines the pressures on young adults today, both in Canada and in international context. It asks whether our current social programs meet the needs of this generation, and whether there are socially innovative ways of responding better. It examines whether we are developing a serious problem of intergenerational unfairness. Finally and importantly, it explores the attitudes and expectations of this generation, tracing the implications for the evolution of the Canadian social contract.



(Please note that not all presentations will be made available)

Session 1:  Overview: young adults in an international perspective

Claire Keane [PDF 2.7 MB
John Myles [PDF 1.4 MB]

Session 2:  Economic prospects: education, employment, incomes

Harry Holzer [PDF 100 KB]
Sevaun Palvetzian [PDF 2.1 MB

Session 3:  Social transitions and family policy

Dan Woodman [PDF 2 MB]
Pierre Fortin [PDF 300 KB]
 * Pierre Fortin (written presentation) [PDF 350 KB]

Session 4:  Aboriginal young adults

Andrew Sharpe [PDF 400 KB]
Jason Ryle [PDF 7 MB]
 * imagineNATIVE YouTube video 

Jessica Bolduc [PDF 5 MB

Session 5:   Marginalized young adults  

Mark Courtney [PDF 5 MB
Monica Boyd  [PDF 363 KB]  
Loralee Gillis  [PDF 2 MB

Session 6:   Intergenerational equity: the contours of the social contract 

Paul Kershaw  [PDF 6.5 MB]
*  Measuring the Age Gap in Social Spending [PDF 600 KB]
*  Population Aging Generational Equity and the Middle Class [PDF 1 MB]

Marco Albertini [PDF 740 KB]

Session 7:   The attitudes and expectations of young adults, and the politics of policy responses 

Paul Taylor [PDF 3.6 MB]
David Coletto [PDF 1.5 MB]


The School of Policy Studies at Queen's University gratefully acknowledges the following sponsors:

Employment and Social Development, Canada
Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade, Ontario 
Ministry of Community and Social Services, Ontario
Ministry of Finance, Ontario 
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Ontario
Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, Ontario

Region of Peel
City of Torontop