No place like home in tomorrow's world

Click to follow
HOME IS where the heart is for the Britons of 2020 with our whole idea of community, work and relationships altered and made more flexible.

With one in five of us self-employed in 20 years' time and less than half of us in full-time work, the home will become increasingly important as a place where we not only live but work, shop and seek entertainment.

The NeXt generation: Lifestyles for the Future, a report by the Henley Centre, says the watchwords for the next decades are flexibility, choice, self-sufficiency and disenfranchisement as society develops.

The winners in 2020 will undoubtedly be women who are seen as better suited to flexible employment and have shown more skills in areas like teamwork and time management, all of which will be at a premium in the new workforce.

Those born after 1978 - the so-called "Millennial Kids" - will also be well-adapted to prosper, already accepting the need for self-sufficiency and planning for their future.

The losers will be men - who have seen traditional jobs eroded - and the "have-nots" who will see the support of the welfare state reduced.

Feminism has made a great impact on Generation Xers (21-36-year-olds), with women generally having a more positive outlook, being more prepared to take risks and adapt to change. "Generation X women are self-confident, fairly empowered and are not necessarily trying on all these different guises," said Jane Falkingham, lecturer on population studies and social policy at the London School of Economics. "The men have somehow lost their role."

The Henley Centre, which compiled the research for the Prudential predicts that diminishing family ties mean we will become more reliant on friends, seeking out like-minded people rather than relatives, and that the home will become the centre of our lives.

"The home is of increasing importance," said Laurie Taylor, visiting professor of politics and sociology at Birkbeck College, London. "There is a great increase in home ownership, and important technical advances mean that more and more can be done from the home including work ... Already 15 per cent of package holidays are booked through Ceefax and when television becomes interactive there will be an enormous transformation ... We have to ask what the future of the community will be."

With more flexible attitudes to families, and a state pension likely to be worth only 8 per cent of average earnings by 2020, a whole new attitude to financial planning will have to be worked out. Self-sufficiency will become more important in managing money. And people will have to retire later or maybe not at all to maintain a modest income during their twilight years.