Are we Baby Boomers to blame for today’s generations struggles?

The growing cost of owning a home has been the focus of political discussions in the past few days. And

The growing cost of owning a home has been the focus of political discussions in the past few days.

And with it again comes all the finger pointing and blaming over who should be held responsible.

While the politicians battle it out amongst themselves, the rest of Australia will go back to the age old Baby Boomers vs today’s generation battle.

It seems every time this discussion comes around, we Baby Boomers get the blame for the world’s problems – from government debt to the GFC and housing affordability.

So, are we actually to blame?

According to former Australian Human Rights Commissioner Chris Sidoti, we are.

In 1999 he controversially labelled those of us born between 1946 and 1961 as “the most selfish generation in history”.

A Baby Boomer himself, he claimed the generation “refused to pay their share of tax” and were given a “free ride” through university.

And, he also said Baby Boomers were guilty of imposing enormous burdens of debt on the generations after them.

“We are now the people who are in positions of influence with the media, government, business and most walks of life, and it we are to say there are people in Australia who aren’t doing well, I think we have to look at ourselves as the people who are responsible for that,” he told the Daily Telegraph at the time.

Last year, he backed up those comments telling NewsCorp he stood by his views about the “stinginess of the generation”.

“Baby boomers are caring for their parents who are living longer. At the same time, childcare needs are greater so we’re being called upon to look after the grandkids, too. Meanwhile, we’re also having to work longer,” he said.

“This generation that didn’t pay its way is now being squeezed by longer (working) responsibilities, increased responsibilities for frail parents and increased responsibilities for grandchildren.”

You might be wondering what figures people such as Chris Sidoti are using to back up their claims?

In 2014 a Grattan Institute report found older Australians were capturing a growing share of wealth, while younger Australians’ wealth had stagnated.

“The housing boom plus rapid increases in government payments on pensions and services for older people risks creating a generation of young Australians with a lower standard of living than that of their parents at a similar age,” the report stated.

“The generational bargain, under which each generation of working Australians supports retirees while still improving its own standard of living, is under threat.”


Is anyone actually not blaming us?

It turns out there are some who back us up and say that we Baby Boomers are not blame.

Social researcher Mark McCrindle told NewsCorp last year that their was evidence to suggest Baby Boomers are the “backbone” of the country.

“They were just raised in good economic times,” he said.

“They could buy a home when the average house price was five times the average earning income. Today’s it’s almost three times as expensive.

“If we look at what they’re doing now, they’re not selling off empty homes and living in luxury, they’re letting kids stay at home longer, lending their cars.

“In a sense, they’re taking on the cost of living for their children. The baby boomers have been more supportive of their children’s generation than their parents were of them.”

And he’s not the only one.

Research fellow at the University of New South Wales Myra Hamilton penned a piece for the Sydney Morning Herald earlier this year arguing that the “intergenerational narrative is neither true not helpful”.  

“In each generation, there are those who do well and those who struggle,” she wrote.

“Social advantage and disadvantage play a much stronger role than generation in determining who does well and who struggles.

“The fact is that not all Baby Boomers have had a charmed life. Some have struggled and some have done just OK.”

She wrote that both Baby Boomers and today’s generation have experienced rising rents, house prices and job insecurity.

“The two generations may misunderstand each other and may talk disparagingly of the others’ social and cultural peccadillos – mostly the products of their different times. This is natural. But it doesn’t put them on opposing sides of policy,” she wrote.

“Let us not forget that most members of Gen Y are the children of baby boomers, and boomer parents are anxious that their offspring are struggling to buy a home, find secure work and juggle the demands of work and care.”

So, if Baby Boomers aren’t to blame, the question for everyone to think about and find a solution for is what can be done to make things easier for everyone?

What do you think? Are we Baby Boomers to blame? Should we be responsible for finding a solution to the world’s problems?

  1. Yes, give the 50-60 yo a chance in running the world to Educate the younger WHO want to learn, and retire the older with grace who have contributed to the world. I am 57 and sick and tired of been told what to do by people with no life skills, My thought is if you dont learn something every day it is a day not well spent. One thing for sure, is stop blaming and start educating !

  2. Kathy Robertson  

    I am really tired of hearing how hard it is for the young generation to buy a house, there are still cheap houses and units out there, they may not be in suburb you want but it is a stepping stone to what you really want.

    Baby Boomers needed to have 20% deposit for a house, women were only earning 1/4 of mens wages, so their wage wasn’t taken into account when we bought our homes. We had 17% interest rates, now they have the lowest ever interest rates and get a first home buyers grant!!

    We had to live on a shoestring to be able to afford to buy house, one car, no holidays or eating out. We have done the hard yards now it’s their turn.

  3. Whether we are or not the new generations certainly wont be the answer to self motivated.

  4. jo myles  

    We struggled to save for a deposit. Bought a renovaters nightmare in a distant suburb. All second hand furniture. No trips overseas. No eating out. Op shopping now and on a pension. Still no trips overseas. minimum eating out and coffees. But the one thing I did when divorced was buy the cheapest smallest unit in a distant suburb. I am typical of most baby boomers. The ones who have done well are in the minority, just as there are people in this generation who have done well. You can not have it all. Or you can’t have your cake and eat it too, as my Mum would say.

  5. Pat  

    Us baby boomers did it tough too. I agree you started off small & worked your way up. We bought a home unit first then after a few years sold it & bought an old house, then later a bigger one. A lot of women didn’t work, or if they did their wages were lower than a mans. When we bought our own place we sat on second hand lounges, recycled furniture from family members till you could afford better ones & recycled to others to help them out. We worked since we were 15 & paid taxes for our retirement.

  6. Cathy Howat  

    What can be done to make things easier/ The whole economic system needs to be reformed! We are now in post industrial economy in first world countries, except for some really high tech manufacturing (such as shipbuilding in Germany, aircraft in Europe, America, and Brazil.) Old line smokestack industries are dead or dying, unskilled jobs are going the same way. There is no longer a need for instance for unskilled laborers, today they must be able to read and write and operate machinery. We will never get back to the days of full employment again. We need to rejig the economy so people can retire earlier, and those that may never get work can receive a guaranteed income, as can those who may have to work part time, casually (which 1s what I did as a nurse for 20 years), and early retirees should get it too on top of super. This is the only way I can see to avoid going back to the conditions of the early industrial revolution (say 1780 to 1840 in Britain. Are you aware that the British NHS is reporting cases of malnutrition and rickets because people cannot get work and cannot eat on benefits? I am not advocating bludging, but a total re think about how the economy must work

  7. Alan Murphy  

    They have to blame some one, get real, yes we had to find 20% deposit, interest rates hit 17.5% (thanks Mr Keating) we had cheap second hand hand me down furniture, sheets as curtains, no child care or maternity leave, one car if you were lucky and no credit cards.
    The genY or who ever want it all now big flash 4 bedroom homes 2 new cars, latest of every thing, pool, go out and holidays, without making the sacrifices we did to get what we have, and because its gotten tough they have to blame some one namely us.

    • Sandra smith  

      Couldn’t have said it better that is how we did it .no hand outs like they get today .

  8. Lyn  

    I’m with Myra Hamilton. It’s not helpful to blame anyone. We’re all in this together and we are trying to find the best solutions we can.


    Back in 1967 we purchased our first 12 square home for $9500 with an $8000 housing loan . The same home today (still looks great)
    would sell for $750, 000 and require at least $150,000 deposit with a residual $600,000 housing loan. Even with the current low interest rates on housing loans this size loan must be totally demoralizing for first home buyers.
    Sure, back then it was a struggle somewhat … three part-time jobs, second-hand furniture, young kids, one used car,
    caravan park holidays, etc. etc. I think my basic salary back then was around $50pw and my loan repayment was about $15 pw. This same formula for today’s young homebuyer would be something like $800pw/$500pw … BLOODY DISGRACEFUL !!
    But, are we responsible for the current housing affordability problems … NO WAY JOSE !!! The blame should be aimed directly at the property developers, greedy real estate agents and the vile building industry unions that have continually forced up house prices.
    Where are all the 12 square/ 3 bedroom NEW affordable homes being built today? No-where, would be my accurate guess. The last two generations of young people have been totally conned into believing that that the minimum new house requirement is 4-5 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, separate family rooms, home cinemas and a host of other pretty useless costly improvements.
    I believe that state governments should be opening up far more realistically priced land and placing price covenants on same to ensure that the newbuilds can be afforded by our young families in the $300k/$400k price bracket for a house and land package. Sure, this would reinstate the 12 sq./3 bedroom home again, but so what … it was good enough for us baby-boomers, why not our kids and grandkids ?

  10. Sue  

    I’m so sick and tired of everyone blaming the baby boomers for the woes of the world today. Life was not easy for us. There was no parental payments, no mater it’s leave and payments, we had second hand furniture and rented a. Flat when we first started out. One car TV, stop blaming us be are we worked hard and made a life for ourselves without having to rely on handouts and parents. There was no superannuation and we went through some tough times.

    Maybe look at how the governments of today Re wasting money on themselves and how much the refugees get compared to a pensioner who has paid taxes all their lives and co tributes to society.

    Leaves us alone and see how you fair when you get to our age and your kids are complaining about how you have ruined the future for them

  11. Rhonda De Stefano  

    Baby boomers cannot be blamed for the way things are now. We paid board while we lived at home, many of us worked from our mid teens and paid taxes on the earnings. Certainly higher education was not as expensive as it is now, but if you want a clever country, you make education available to all who want it. Homes and cars did cost a smaller proportion of weekly earnings, however, our expectations were lower and we built smaller homes with basic fitouts and usually had one basic car per family. Most of us grew up with good work ethics too. The problems we are seeing these days are caused by economic rationalism, corporatisation, globalisation, lack of support for local manufacturing, poor government and a growing consumer oriented society! So don’t blame my generation and deny me some support for my old age! It will come 5 1/2 years later than it did for my mother in any case!

  12. Claire  

    Free ride through University…are you kidding! I left school when the Liberals were in Government. If you didn’t have well off parents, forget going to Uni. So I couldn’t go… big $$$ I went off and found work were i could without “Quals” (those bits of meaningless paper that says you can do what you actually can’t do)
    BTW….having reached my 60’s and observed later gens…..this one Gen Y seem to be the most self obsessed.

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