Most teenagers in Scotland believe they will have a worse life than their parents, "disappointing" new polling data released today reveals. 

Fears about money, the environment, and unemployment led to 55 per cent of teens thinking this, according to the survey of 14 to 17 year olds by Barnardo's and YouGov

Almost one in ten young people (nine per cent) said they felt "hopeless" about their future, and another third thought their own children's lives would be even worse. 

Read more: Confidence among young people at 'lowest level in 28 years'

One teenage respondent said: “Everyone is struggling these days. My mum struggles to pay the bills and she’s a nurse with a master’s degree. I’m not that clever, so imagine my life will be harder than hers.” 

According to the research, 18 per cent of teenagers in Scotland believe they won’t have enough money at 30 to live comfortably.

The Herald: Young people were asked to imagine their lives at 30 as part of a surveyYoung people were asked to imagine their lives at 30 as part of a survey (Image: Barnados)

And 10 per cent of respondents also believed they were unable to change their own future. The figures are in line with the rest of the UK, Barnardo's says.

One respondent said: “Everyone can go to university and get qualifications. However, if you can’t get a decent job afterwards, then it’s totally meaningless. You can only try your best and pray for some luck to come your way.” 

Another said: “My older brothers worked hard and got great qualifications and cannot get good jobs, so I think it will be the same for me.” 

Read more: Nearly half of teenagers concerned about having children

Martin Crewe, director of Barnardo’s Scotland, said: “The results of this polling make for very disappointing reading indeed.

"If, as these results suggest, we have a generation of children who believe they will have a life worse than that of their parents, then, as a society, we will have failed.” 

The Herald: Martin Crewe is director of Barnado's ScotlandMartin Crewe is director of Barnado's Scotland (Image: Barnados)

The polling was released to coincide with a new report from Barnardo’s – Changing Childhoods, Changing Lives – which paints a bleak picture of children’s lives in the UK. 

The report assesses the current situation for children and how crises such as cost of living, Covid-19 and environmental concerns are impacting them in 2024. There are also forecasts for how things might develop in the future – including spiralling children’s mental health and an increased risk of online exploitation.

Mr Crewe said: “At Barnardo’s, we’re determined that children will not face these future challenges alone and we know the current situation requires urgent action.

"We’ve also worked with young people to develop a new look for the charity – one that stands out and feels relevant to the children, young people and families who need us. 

“Despite the negative picture painted in this survey, there is also hope that things can get better. In Scotland we are committed to keeping The Promise to reform Scotland’s care system, so that all children grow up safe and loved."

Read more: Scots couple describe the joy of fostering children

The charity is calling on the Scottish Government to raise the Scottish Child Payment to £30, abolish the young parent penalty and to invest "further and faster" in early intervention services and "holistic" family support.

It is also urging the UK Government to abolish the two-child benefit limit and introduce an essentials guarantee for Universal Credit.

Mr Crewe said: “Last year, Barnardo’s supported more than 11,500 children, young people, parents and carers in more than 150 services across Scotland. It’s what we do, it’s what we’ve been doing for more than 150 years and it’s what we plan to do for many years to come.

"For many children, the future can seem hopeless. We want to change that and offer every child positive chances.”

Social Justice secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “It is unacceptable that in 2024 children and young people continue to live in poverty in Scotland. That is why we have very deliberately chosen to invest in our public services, and the social contract which binds the Scottish Government to the people we serve. 
“Economic modelling estimates the actions we’re taking will mean 100,000 children will be kept out of relative poverty and 70,000 kept out of absolute poverty next year. These are the lives of children across Scotland, in every community, being improved by the action we are taking.

“Against a backdrop of the UK Government policies limiting the financial support to families including the two-child limit and the benefit cap, we are taking real action to lift children out of poverty and improve their chances in life. 
“Barnardo’s is right to call for welfare reform such as introducing an Essentials Guarantee and scrapping the two child limit. We know that the UK Government could lift a further 40,000 children out of poverty in Scotland this year if they made key changes to Universal Credit.”

To find out more about the charity, visit