Attitudes towards Australia’s baby boomers and intergenerational equity

Kate O’Loughlin, Rafat Hussain, Hal Kendig (October 2020) Attitudes towards Australia’s baby boomers and intergenerational equity. The Sociological Review



Australia’s Intergenerational Reports (2010, 2015) make a case for restraining public expenditure on an ageing population given the sizeable post-WWII baby boom cohort, increasing longevity, and uncertain economic prospects for younger generations. There also is concern for major disparities within older and younger generations resulting from cumulative advantages or disadvantages over the life course. Drawing on national survey data from the Attitudes to Ageing in Australia study, this article investigates perceptions of inequity between age cohorts at two time points (2009–10, 2015–17) focusing on variations by age and gender around lifelong opportunities for baby boomers compared to other groups, share of government benefits, and support for increasing pension age eligibility. The findings indicate a shift in attitudes between 2009–10 and 2015–17 with more in the younger cohorts in 2015–17 reporting better lifelong opportunities for baby boomers; and baby boomers receiving a fair share/more than a fair share of government benefits. With pension age eligibility, there is a small but significant shift in attitudes supporting the increase and a corresponding drop in those opposing it, however opposition is highly gendered with more women in each of the age cohorts opposing it at both time points. While there is a perceptible shift in younger cohorts’ attitudes towards baby boomers’ perceived advantages, overall attitudes are not totally supportive of government arguments for expenditure restraint; although a more overt public discourse on intergenerational inequity is emerging as the declining life prospects of younger cohorts are juxtaposed with tax-advantaged housing and retirement wealth of many older age Australians.