Baby Boomers, be nice to your grandkids: they may save Australia

The problem with Australia’s population ageing is not that there are too many older people – it’s that there are not enough young people to support them, that presents many challenges to Australia’s continued…writes

By Brendan Churchill, University of Tasmania and Lisa Denny, University of Tasmania

The problem with Australia’s population ageing is not that there are too many older people – it’s that there are not enough young people to support them.

That presents many challenges to Australia’s continued prosperity, which are becoming more apparent by the day as more Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1965, reach retirement age.

So what’s the solution?

city family urban suburb

As our research in the latest volume of the Australian Journal of Social Issues shows, Australian kids – from those still in nappies through to children aged up to 11 – may yet come to the Boomers’ rescue.

As the last of the Baby Boomers exit the labour market, their grandchildren will arrive.

This generation will arrive to a labour market in desperate need of tertiary educated, highly skilled professionals.

Those young Australians will stem the economic and fiscal impact of Australia’s population ageing as the Baby Boomers retire, helping governments to keep paying the bills for costly health and welfare programs.

That’s why we’ve dubbed this generation “Generation Thank God You’re Here” (TGYH).

Who belongs to Gen TGYH?

Generation TGYH are the children born in a baby boom that began in 2003.gen y

They are being born to Generation X and also some Generation Y women who typically delayed motherhood by compressing their critical childbearing years.

In contrast to their Boomer mothers, these women delayed childbearing because of education and employment opportunities.

Generation TGYH will be bigger than their parents’ generations.

Between 2003 and 2012, more than 2.8 million TGYH babies were born.

However, recent fertility data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicates that the baby boom of the 2000s may be over.

The data suggests that many Gen X women are completing their families and are unlikely to have more children in the future.

This slowdown in the fertility rate, and the resultant decrease in the number of children being born, further highlights the importance of Generation TGYH.

What ‘Sandwich Generation’ parents can do to help

The timing of Generation TGYH’s entry into the Australian workforce – just as the last of the Baby Boomers retire – is perfect.

And so too is its size.

This generation will be big enough to replace over a quarter of million Baby Boomers, who will be near retirement age when the Gen TGYHs are ready to enter the labour market in 2020.

So if we want today’s babies and young children to serve Australia well as adults, it’s in our interests for current and future governments to help them grow to their full potential – especially by focusing on early childhood development and education.

Many adults working today belong to what has been called the “Sandwich Generation”: parents whose time is squeezed between raising children and looking after ageing parents.

Those older workers have a vested interest in investing in future workers including Generation TGYH, as that investment will indirectly influence the strength of the Australian economy in the future – including their own standard of living in retirement age.

Should governments fail to recognise the importance of this coming generation, they may leave a group of young people without adequate education and skills to succeed the Baby Boomers.

That risk is real.

Brotherhood of St Laurence research has shown that more than a quarter of all young Australians in the labour market are either unemployed or underemployed.

This should be a warning to governments about the effects of failing to prepare young people for their futures.

The previous government prepared a Intergenerational Report in early 2015. 54935520 - baby boomer: yellow road sign with a blue sky and white clouds

As our previous treasurer Joe Hockey indicated when the report came out, it will:

create a framework that will help define the destiny of the federation white paper, the tax white paper and the budget next year … it is a document that will begin the national discussion about where our economy must go.

We can only hope that the report kick-starts a national discussion about what all of us – governments, communities and families – can do to give today’s kids a flying start to get them ready to fill the employment and economic gap left by the Baby Boomers.

This article was originally published on The ConversationRead the original article



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'Baby Boomers, be nice to your grandkids: they may save Australia' have 2 comments

  1. January 28, 2015 @ 6:37 pm Ben Loveday

    I think it is patently obvious Generation TGYH will not be able to afford $100K+ degrees, and the few that can afford it will not be enough to provide the IP that Australia’s growing service industries need. We are also losing the IP of the Baby Boomers at an an alarming rate through rampant and endemic aegism in our HR industry. All of this is following the lead of the USA. Instead we should be cherry picking macro socio-economic concepts from other countries like Norway (free tertiary education) and Germany’s automotive industry. Otherwise we will end up like a suburb of Detroit. In another article Pete Wargent mentioned the two speed economy- where all employment growth is in the 4 major cities, and regionally it is bleak..all of this is true, it is very bleak elsewhere, immediately outside of the inner confines of Melbourne and Sydney. the reason for this is indeed the decline of manufacturing and mining investment, but it is part of a larger trend of the growth of third world manufacturing and the growth of CBD services industries. Coal and Oil are energy sources of the past, and elsewhere in the World the trend is firmly toward renewables, so to argue going back to coal for the next 3 decades is arguing for a slow death of ever reducing commodity prices, and increasing international alienation as Australia fails to deliver its share of combating climate change. So it’s now time to begin the Renaissance of Australian industry, and to focus on new technologies that will deliver prosperity. These industries are the renewables, electric vehicles, high speed transportation (not road), and medical and defence technologies, agricultural technologies, and prefabricated construction in factories like cars, and services industries of all types that operate internationally.

    Reply

    • January 28, 2015 @ 6:46 pm Michael Yardney

      Thanks for the detailed comment Ben You make some good points

      Reply


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