Topic: “Generation ‘P’ – The unequal treatment of the old and the young in the workplace”

‘Generation P’ can stand for ‘Precarious’, or the German word for interns, ‘Praktikanten’. The idea behind it remains the same whatever it stands for: It describes a generation that instead of getting fixed employment after studying is forced to complete a number of badly paid internships. Increasingly, interns are being exploited as cheap labour because they are not covered by the regulatory hand of the public authorities and are badly informed about their rights. They have minimal legal protection, and work long hours to try and prove themselves to possible future employers, but they can be fired with very little notice and for no given reason. A new precarious generation has emerged.

On Friday, 4 July 2008, the awards ceremony took place in Berlin in the scope of a symposium. Five papers by young scientists have been awarded with the prize, which is endowed with 10.000 € prize money.

The winning papers and more information on their authors can be found on our German website.

These were the tasks for the award-winning researchers:

The question is focused around three subtopics. Candidates should attempt question 1, either 2a, 2b or 2c and question 3.

  1. Define “Intergenerational Justice” and “Just Wages” and address the relationship between the two.
  2. a)    Analyse legal and collective labour agreements regarding intergenerational justice in Germany
    b)    Describe how the world of work is changing in general, and what effects this has on different generations,
    c)    Compare situations facing the younger generation entering the world of work in Germany and at least one other country.
  3. Which solutions could be found on a social, corporate and individual level?


Symposium: Easing the « rush hour » of life – Diversity of life courses in international comparison

From July 4th to July 6th, 2008, the Foundation for the Rights of Future Generations (FRFG) organised a symposium on “Easing the «rush hour» of life – Diversity of life courses in international comparison”. The participants included renowned experts as well as young scientists from several European countries. In the course of the symposium, the FRFG also awarded the 4th Intergenerational Justice Price 2007/08. The symposium did not single out a specific phase of life but focus on the whole course of life.

The outlined symposium did not pursue the question “How can we use the life-years we gained due to increasing life expectancy?” because there is already a lot of research done (cp. Forschungsgruppe Altern und Lebenslauf, Instead it dealt with the issue “To what extent should we change the planning of our life right from the start, knowing that our life expectancy is higher than the one of previous cohorts?” This question focuses on the easing of the so-called « rush hour » of life between the ages of 28 and 38. During this period, people finish their apprenticeships or studies; they begin to work and have to decide whether or not to start a family. It is this crucial period of time we have to examine to detect the underlying causes for the difference between the desired and the actual number of children in Germany. The total fertility rate currently lies at 1.34 children per woman (1.26 in the Eastern part and 1.36 in the Western part of the country), whereas women desire to have 1.74 and men to have 1.57 children. Differences between the numbers for East and West Germany are on average barely detectable. East German women’s desire for children (1.73) exceeds West German women’s (1,78) only to a small extend, whereas East German men desire a little less children (1.46) than West German men (1.59) (Bib 2005, 36). These numbers already show the importance of a gender-specific analysis of the subject.

Therefore it is important to research whether an easing of the third life-decade could achieve a reduction of problematic conditions regarding the compatibility of job and family. Besides a better combination of kids and careers during this decade, the possible options for avoiding a double strain by decoupling (preference of the career, preference of family life, postponement of the career, postponement of the starting of a family) have been analysed during the project.

The symposium was divided into two parts that were in turn examined from international and gender perspectives. In short, we firstly analyse the time budget of the cohorts in question and later on their financial budgets. This approach and the consideration of both aspects allows for comprehensive conclusions.

In consistence with the international and gender perspectives, the experiences of other countries in their attempts to disentangle the « rush-hour » for the individual (both in private and professional life) as well as in relation to the welfare state and society as a whole have been examined carefully in the first part of the symposium. The differing consequences for the sexes were equally analysed. The second part focused on the age specific distribution of income, again from international and gender perspectives.

You can find the concept and programme of the symposium here. In the follow-up of the symposium, a special issue of the Intergenerational Justice Review will be devoted to the topic. Furthermore, a book with contributions of the symposium’s participants and other scientists shall be published in 2009.