There is evidence to suggest the millennial generation has had lower standard of living than the previous generation. A 2016 report by the Resolution Foundation highlighted the divide between millennials and Generation X, showing that people in the younger generation earned £8000 less in their 20s than people in their parents' generation. A key reason for this is our heavily regulated world. The recession of 2008 is partly to blame, however, another reason is due to the tighter business regulations put in place in the 2000s which restrict innovation as it deters entrepreneurs from investing in new ideas. This is unlike the economic environment of Generation X where investment and innovation was widely encouraged. In order to increase our generation’s standard of living, the government needs to take a fresh look at restrictive policies on innovation.
For example, new technologies such as drones and autonomous vehicles can play a part in increasing our standard of living. These technologies could be used to increase productivity. Technological advancements can also cut pollution as we move away from oil and coal and towards cleaner energy (such as solar power and wind). New inventions can also be used for research and development across a whole range of products, improving our favourite gadgets year on year. The government therefore needs to adopt a cautious attitude towards regulating new technologies, allowing entrepreneurs leeway in experimenting with new goods and services.
Furthermore, many onerous regulations discourage competition by cementing the position of large incumbents, who are able to comply with complex and burdensome requirements. If firms do not have any competition, they could use their monopoly power to push up their and exploit consumers.
Innovation without permission is beneficial to society in many different ways. The millennial generation needs to fight against stagnant standards of living and addressing regulations on emerging technologies is one way to do this. Giving entrepreneurs the opportunity to fully and creatively explore new industries will create a richer, happier, freer population.
Caitlin Keenan is the winner of the Under-18 category of the ASI's 'Young Writer on Liberty' competition.