I've wondered this ever since I first became interested in politics. Because the figures show, election after election, that the older generation turn out to vote while the young leave it up to someone else to decide. (We're talking generalisations, of course!) In 2015 78% of the 65 and overs exercised their democratic right to vote - in the 18 to 24 age bracket the same was true of only 43%.
Turnout at last week's referendum vote was even more starkly divided. 83% of the OAPs vs. just 36% of the under 25s.
But if you don't bother to turn up, you can't expect politicians to try and win your vote. That's why all the big parties formulate policy with the old in mind - they're the ones who will make or break their electoral chances.
Free bus passes, winter fuel payments, cold weather payments, pension credit, council tax benefit, free prescriptions and eye tests, senior railcards, free TV licences, plus rafts of local and private business arrangements for concessions on all kinds of goods and services are just some of the pensioner friendly schemes out there.
The basic state pension is now £119.30 a week, assuming you made your full NI payments, with means tested pension credit top ups available. The weekly Job Seeker's Allowance rate - assuming you've been making full NI payments - is £57.90 for those aged 18 to 24, and £73.10 for over 25s; couples can expect £114.85. The so called 'triple lock' ensures that pensions rise each year - so called 'austerity' has seen benefit rates for working age adults (currently defined as ages 18 to 65 for men and 18 to 60 for women) frozen. The pension age will rise slightly in 2020, and it is currently estimated a person born after 1995 will get to retire at the age of 73, making those working age cuts an ever bigger deal.
It feels mean spirited to talk about the possibility of reducing anything for pensioners, not least because the perception is that the majority are struggling in poverty. But if we, like the government, define relative poverty as '60% of median income after housing costs' 16% of pensioners - some 1.8 million people of a total 11 million - live below the poverty line. In contrast, of the 9 million 14 to 24 year olds living in the UK, 30% (c. 2.7 million) are in poverty.
Severe poverty in the UK is defined as ' living in a household with an equivalised income below 50 per cent of median Before Housing Costs which also experience material deprivation.' Around 900,000 pensioners fall into this category vs. 1.9 million young adults. Whichever way you look at it, poverty is a bigger issue for young people than old.
The received wisdom peddled by the traditional media - TV and newspapers, consumed predominantly by the over 55s - implies that all this is the fault of immigration. If it weren't for them, so the argument goes, we'd have full employment and no poverty! The truth is somewhat different.
In 2014 13.1% of the UK population (c.8.3 million people) were 'foreign-born', this includes people who have since taken British citizenship, and people who were born abroad to British parents. 8.5% of the population were 'foreign citizens', including EU nationals. These, then, are the 5.1 million or so who are supposedly causing all the problems. Except about 0.5 million of them are here on student visas, with undergraduates in particular keeping our universities afloat by paying £9,000 (EU nationals) or about £15,500 (non-EU) a year for the privilege. Tuition fees, of course, were introduced in 1998, long after our current pensioners had benefited from free higher education and apprentice opportunities. As a group, the over 65s have continued to vote for fee increases ever since.
It's difficult to say exactly how many are in skilled employment, but given that 24% of doctors working in the English NHS alone (that's about 36,000) are foreign citizens, the numbers are likely to be pretty high. Their taxes and expertise are helping to prop up public services, while the generation they tend to be most preoccupied with serving keep voting for policies which damage them. The working age UK population, as a whole, is poorly educated and low skilled - continual cuts and freezes to education funding mean we need immigrants to plug the skills gap.
When it comes to low paid and unskilled jobs, the kind of work immigrants can somewhat legitimately be accused of stealing from us, there has been a big growth in the number employed in such over the last few years. But, as LSE research points out: "the areas of the UK with large increases in EU immigration did not suffer greater falls in the jobs and pay of UK-born workers. The big falls in wages after 2008 are due to the global financial crisis and a weak economic recovery, not to immigration." The wisdom of austerity can be challenged, but if you've got to have it, it should at least be applied evenly. Salary increases for anyone are few and far between, even while pensions have seen year on year growth along with the introduction of expensive concessions like the free bus pass.
As for immigrants draining our welfare state, the figures simply don't support this supposed fact. About 78% of EU migrants of working age are in work, as are 62% of non-EU migrants. Of those not in work, only 10% or so of EU nationals claim Job Seeker's Allowance (c. 60,000 people), because a far bigger proportion of economically inactive EU (and non EU) nationals are students or dependents, in comparison to UK citizens.
I could go on, but I trust that my readers all know the score on this! And don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating some sort of Boomsday scenario. It's never a good idea to simply shift blame from one section of society to another. But - and it's a big but - we cannot continue to allow difficult questions about the sustainability of the triple lock, and other pension benefits, to go ignored because it might cost votes.
We've just seen what putting personal political ambition before the national interest can do.
The Milburn report (Social Mobility and Child Poverty in Great Britain) explicitly made the link between pension benefits and child poverty back in 2013, but it unsurprisingly went straight into the long grass. Even broaching the topic was considered too dangerous in the run up to an election, and the focus was instead given to vote winning pledges on commitment to free bus passes, and reducing levels of immigration....
Young people have to start caring about politics, and the impact it has on them. But will #Brexit be enough to spark that interest?