Press releases

Treadmill Families - Running Faster, Going Backwards.

04 June 2013

64% of people aged between 35 and 44 expect the state of their personal finances to get worse or not change over the next two years. That is one of the many findings of Legal & General's new research into people's attitudes towards their personal finances and the economic downturn.

The research, 'Treadmill Families,' based on polling conducted by ComRes, shows that throughout the downturn people in all age groups and most parts of the country are finding it harder to balance their household income. However, it also identifies one group - people in their thirties and forties - for whom the recession has had a particular type of impact. These are today's Treadmill Families, people who are running harder in order to stand still.

Treadmill Families have been hit by a triple whammy:

  • It is the first time that this group has experienced a recession while they have been in the driving seat of the family finances. They may have seen their parents manage during recessions in the 80s and 90s but for the majority this will be their first recession whilst working.
  • Treadmill Families stand out because they have increased their debts during the recession and dipped into whatever savings they had more than any other group.
  • Treadmill Families are literally paying for the breakdown of the intergenerational contract with more financial responsibilities but less financial security than their parents - for example changes to higher education funding, delays in home ownership and the costs of childcare.

Treadmill Families have changed their finances to try and protect themselves against the credit crunch. They have tried to pay off debt, cut their savings pot, changed their spending habits, and put off major life decisions such as having children or moving home. The polling showed that:

  • 84% of 35 - 44 year olds feel worse off or about the same about the state of their personal finances compared to 5 years ago, and 64% expect the state of their personal finances to get worse or not change for the next two years.
  • Treadmill Families have cut their 'nice to have' spending most dramatically compared to other age groups. Spending on going out and entertainment has fallen by 55% and on clothing by 45%.
  • They are also the cohort who have experienced the highest level of increased debt and the most decreased savings during the credit crunch.

Today's research is set to spark a debate into how the financial services industry adapts to the changing climate of economic austerity.

John Godfrey, Corporate Affairs Director at Legal & General said:

"Treadmill Families are five years into a lost decade. They are running harder to stand still, having been hit by a triple whammy of big changes. They are experiencing the first downturn when they are in the driving seat of family budgeting. They are saying that their debts are up and their savings are down and they are paying for the breakdown of the intergenerational contract with more financial responsibilities but less security than their parents".

Notes to editors

'Treadmill Families' follows on from research launched by Legal & General last year which looked at the aspirations of today's 35 year olds. The report 353, looked at the intergenerational contract at a household and family level between the 2012 generation of 35 year olds and their parents' generation - the 35 year olds of 1977, and looked at how the flow of wealth between the generations has changed over the past 35 years. It concluded that while 2012's young families have changed their financial behaviour, their attitudes about home ownership and when to retire are remarkably similar to those of their parent's generation.

Polling carried out by ComRes. ComRes interviewed 2019 GB adults online between 19th and 21st April 2013.  Data was weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults aged 18+. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

The information contained in this press release is intended solely for journalists and should not be relied upon by private investors or any other persons to make financial decisions.

Legal & General Assurance Society Limited. Registered office: One Coleman Street, London EC2R 5AA. Registered in England No. 166055.  

For more information please contact:

Richard King

Richard King
Head of Group Corporate Communications

t: +44 (0) 2031 242095
m: +44 (0) 7515 324001
e: richard.king@group.landg.com


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