I have read many an article spitting hatred for the Baby Boomers, often fuelled by the jealousy of a perceived “easier” life than ours, as husbands went to work without the need for university education, were able to support their family at home with a mortgage and two cars. Clearly the following generations have to pick up the tab, clean up their act and get back to work, right? Wait, that doesn’t sound right.
Can we really blame the boomers for all of our troubles? The fact remains, they have become the carer generation and acknowledgement needs to be made that while they could buy a house back in the 70s (at 17pc interest, mind you), that house is still housing their 30-something children while they are also looking after their elderly parents. In fact, statistics tell us that 36 per cent of young adults are still living at home, and 71 per cent of baby boomers still have at least one parent living. We are seeing an unprecedented growth of grown children living with their parents and in-laws as they save to buy a house, as well as children who are approaching middle age and have just never moved out. Baby Boomers foot the bill while not being able to enjoy the retirement that they saved and planned for – no doubt much to the consternation of boomer-bashers.
Perhaps to these post-boomer critics, it is just desserts they don’t get to enjoy the retirement pensions that later generations don’t get access too. But in reality, how is it fair that we berate an entire group of people for thinking about their career development, planning for superannuation programs that were available at the time and investing intelligently? If you were offered a retirement plan that will take care of you in your golden years, would you back away. Future generations may think I wanted to survive into my 90s without having to sell everything I’ve earned throughout my life!
The impact of having a generation becoming responsible for looking after both their elderly parents and their grown children, is a group of people aged 54-72 years who are still looking for work. And what do they find? Ageism is ripe in today’s labour market.
We might think of up and coming tech-head Gen Ys when we think about start-ups, but retirees are actually the fastest growing demographic of entrepreneurs in Australia. They’ve got the skills, the experience and the acumen and, if no one else will give them a go, they’ll simply step in and take some market share. And I say good on them.
Zoë Wundenberg is a careers writer, counsellor & coach at Impressability.