It isn’t easy being a millennial these days. Not only do they have to deal with mounting university debt, a lack of job security and an unaffordable housing market, they are also on the front line of blame when things go wrong.
The media loves writing clickbait articles on why millennials are ruining everything, from the film industry, to the Olympics, to sex. But upon closer inspection, the baby boomer generation has a lot to answer for when it comes to ‘ruining’ things.
So instead of attacking millennials for destroying the handshake, let’s have a look at some of the things baby boomers have ruined.
1. The Housing market
It is many a millennial’s dream to own their own home, yet this increasingly seems an unrealistic aim, due in part to the rising wealth of baby boomers. A 2014 Grattan Institute report on “The Wealth of Generations”, found millennials will be the first generation to be worse off than their parents.
Those over 55 were found to hold 58% of all wealth, up from the 51% in 2003-04. With wealth concentrated in the baby boomer demographic, millennials have been shut out of the housing market. In 1981, 61% of 24-34 year olds owned a home, but now just 48% of young Australians do. This also affects the mental health of young people, with a link found between housing uncertainty and mental wellbeing.
2. The Economy
One of the reasons there is a wealth disparity between generations, is the different economic conditions baby boomers and millennials have faced in their lifetime. While baby boomers enjoyed a strong economic period in the 90s and early 2000s, millennials have entered adulthood in a world rocked by the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).
As Jim Tankersley notes, “Boomers soaked up a lot of economic opportunity without bothering to preserve much for the generations to come.” So while millennials are often portrayed as the greedy ones, there is a case to say baby boomers are the greediest generation ever.
3. The Environment
Whether you care about the environment or not, there is no doubt we need a sustainable planet for future generations. Climate change has wrought havoc on the environment and Stephen Hawking already believes the planet is doomed.
A significant amount of environmental damage was caused under the watch of baby boomers, with the consequences now beginning to be felt. The majority of politicians opposed to action on climate change are baby boomers, and it will be the millennial generation who will bear the cost of this inactivity. It looks like we better start packing for life on Mars…
4. The UK’s future
It might not seem like an important issue to Australians, but Britain leaving the European Union (EU) during ‘Brexit’, will have significant consequences for millennials in the UK. Their ability to live and work in Europe has been stifled, and it has led to political and financial instability which will be felt in the years to come.
While 72% of 18 to 24-year-olds voted to remain, only 34% of pensioners voted to stay in the EU. The ‘Leave’ campaign centred on issues of immigration and nationalism, which the majority of millennials simply aren’t concerned about. In the end, it will be British millennials who will shoulder the burden of their severed ties with Europe.
Okay, this isn’t as serious as some of the issues mentioned above, but Facebook, as one of the few refuges for millennials to escape their existential dread, should have remained a safe space. But just like everything else, baby boomers have had to make their mark.
These days, you can’t scroll through Facebook without seeing your aunty posting an atrocious minion meme. Or witnessing a baby boomer fired up about an article posted – which they don’t realise is from a satirical website. In fact, while baby boomers claim millennials are on social media too much, it seems older generations are just as addicted.
It is commonly accepted that millennials are more progressive than their baby boomer counterparts. Young people are more likely to support same-sex marriage, climate change action and increasing refugee intake. Yet it is baby boomer politicians who hold sway in politics and who make policies to appease baby boomer interests.
This is seen all over the world, from conservatives in Canberra preventing same-sex marriage passing in Australia, to anti-immigration rhetoric and nationalism fuelling Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump in the United States. Millennials, who have grown up in a multicultural, secular society, are not as nationalistic and religious as previous generations. Yet it is baby boomers who will shape the world in their image, with little regard for the views of millennials who will inherit it.
After Tony Abbott’s efforts, I can never eat an onion again…