Relax everyone, the intergenerational wars are over

The tendency to see older people’s often modest gain as younger people’s loss has fuelled a misplaced and increasingly toxic resentment between young and old. New evidence may change that

Mary Dejevsky
Thursday 20 June 2019 19:16
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The consensus around baby boomer privilege is suddenly looking less persuasive
The consensus around baby boomer privilege is suddenly looking less persuasive

Ever since David – now Lord – Willetts published what was hailed as his groundbreaking book, The Pinch, the idea that this country was facing, if not already engaged in, a war between the generations has been a set piece of economic and political discussion. His subtitle said it all: “How the baby boomers took their children’s future – and why they should give it back.’’

Over the best part of a decade, Willetts’ premise has grown from a debating topic into a fashionable given. Woe betide anyone who challenged it. We were privileged and self-serving “oldies” – or (for the not-quite so “oldies” among us) a fifth column of apologists operating on behalf of the superannuated “haves” against the youthful “have-nots”.

“We” were depicted as being in perpetual transit between our enormous mortgage-free houses and our latest world cruise, while “they” were stuck in extortionately expensive garrets, unable, despite their best efforts, to rub two ha’pence together, let alone “get on the housing ladder” before later middle-age.

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