Does Generation Y have the right to blame baby boomers for their problems?

When baby boomers were growing up, they weren’t afforded all the opportunities that young people today have. As women can
New Zealand

When baby boomers were growing up, they weren’t afforded all the opportunities that young people today have. As women can argue, there were only a handful of jobs deemed acceptable for a lady, whereas today a woman can successfully run and business and be a CEO if she works hard. So why then are Generation Y pointing the finger at baby boomers?

A combination of debt, joblessness, globalisation, demographics and rising house prices is depressing the incomes and prospects of millions of young people across the developed world, creating a chasm between the generations.

Baby boomers look to them with jealousy and a lack of empathy as they have more opportunities, and they look to baby boomers because they need someone to blame for their financial woes and lack of self control.

Jonathan Gardner, a senior economist at Willis Towers Watson, told The Guardian the retired are sucking up so much cash there is no money left for salary increases.

“It’s the young who are bearing the burden of those past [pension] mistakes”.

But it isn’t just pensioner demands that are making it harder on the younger generations, apparently.

Consumerism means that younger people have a very disposable income and lifestyle, and may find it difficult to slow this down in the future.

Middle-aged western consumers who are at the peak of their earning potential have been the central plank in the development of the world’s postwar economy. They have been key to purchasing all sorts of goods from washing machines, microwaves, cars and houses, to life insurance, as well as putting money away in savings.

What happens in a few years when millennials get older and don’t have the disposable income to improve our economy? It is worrying, especially when baby boomers know nowadays that their pension is not increasing, though they are living longer and the cost of living goes up.

It’s scary to think about but it still begs the question: who is to blame? Is it parents who always told their children to achieve, achieve, achieve and didn’t instil good working values, or is it society with its pressures, social media, faltering politics and more?

A report by the Ready for Ageing Alliance argues that it all starts with Gen Y – they need to stop assuming that all members of the Baby Boomer generation are healthy, wealthy, and idle, and holding them responsible for everything that is currently wrong with the world.

According to Lecturer in Sociology at Canterbury Christ Church University, one of the nastiest narratives to have developed over the past decade is that of “boomer blaming”, where the alleged good fortunes of the generation are presented as the cause of myriad social problems. Everything from environmental destruction to the problems of the economy, the housing market, the welfare state, youth unemployment and children’s mental health, has been laid at the Boomers’ door.

The Ready for Ageing Alliance said “the term ‘Baby Boomer’ is increasingly used as a term of abuse” because in reality, the boomer cohort, like any other, contains a range of individuals living in a range of circumstances. Yes, some are well off, with stable pensions and appreciating housing assets – but others are poor, ill, unemployed, or unable to retire.

In Miss Bristow’s research, she found while the boomers have been of interest for some time, it is only in the past decade or so that they have been so clearly constructed as a problem. One of the central charges levelled against the boomers is that, as a large generation, they have “monopolised” society’s resources: pensions, housing, and healthcare.

“The current obsession with the size of the boomer generation is a result of limited economic and social policy outlook that is obsessed with sharing out the pie, rather than making a bigger pie”, she said.

“Solutions to the economic or cultural problems of today will not be found by rewriting the past and castigating those who happened to live there. We should be living in the present, and embracing the future”.


We want to know your thoughts today on this big question: Do you feel that baby boomers are too readily blame for the issues of the modern world?