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Report on the younger generation shows intergenerational solidarity

National Seniors Australia recently released a report that goes some way to dispelling the narrative of intergenerational conflict in many sections of the media.


The report is titled “Worry about the younger generation: older Australians’ intergenerational solidarity” and was based off responses to a survey that asked older Australians about issues affecting younger people about which they were particularly concerned.

The top two concerns identified were financial in nature, including unemployment/job security and housing affordability.

The survey data was recorded in 2019, however National Seniors advised that it remained consistent with further surveys conducted during the pandemic in 2020.

In total, 2,794 responded to the survey, and the following 10 issues were identified as the most common mentioned among survey participants:

  • Unemployment rates, job security, employment pay and conditions, welfare benefits (mentioned in some form by 31% of participants)
  • Housing affordability and other costs of living (27%)
  • Drug and alcohol use (23%)
  • Education access and standards (20%)
  • Crime and lack of discipline and respect (14%)
  • Personal technology and social media use (14%)
  • Mental health and resilience (10% and 6% respectively)
  • Climate change (9%)
  • Bad parenting (7%)
  • Physical health and wellbeing (6%)

National Seniors CEO, Professor John McCallum, believes there is too much commentary from economists and opinion writers that pits older people against younger generations.

In the “Background” section of its report, National Seniors Australia cites the example of public debates around housing affordability, which often depict older Australians as hoarding big houses when they should be downsizing, while depicting younger Australians as spendthrifts wasting housing deposits on smashed avocado brunches.

“What’s been missing in the conversation is how older people themselves think of younger people,” Prof. McCallum said. “This report goes some way to filling that gap.”

He added that most of the comments were encouraging.

“While there were negative views on some younger people’s behaviour, the majority of the comments were positive,” he said.

“In fact, far from frowning about younger people, many seniors have empathy and expressed admiration and respect for them.”

According to the survey, the results “illustrate the prominent presence of intergenerational solidarity in how older Australians think about younger people.”

Further, it suggests that “public discourse intended to divide old and young people and inflame intergenerational tensions are not well founded. Australian seniors generally do not expect younger people to put aside their own interests to care for older generations. Rather, older Australians want to ensure younger people are adequately taken care of themselves.”

You can read the full 32-page report at this link.