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 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?

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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?