They are often seen as the asset rich generation who are off “spending the kids inheritance” but new research points to baby boomers being less self-indulgent than some might believe.
A New Zealand study comparing the lives and attitudes of baby boomers (aged 55 to 70) with millennials (aged 18 to 30) found boomers were more concerned about the environment and were less consumer-focused than the younger generation.
Of those surveyed 70 per cent of boomers said they cared passionately about the environment compared with 59 per cent of millennials.
While 65 per cent of the boomers said they did not want or need possessions compared to 45 per cent of millennials.
The biggest concern for boomers was the plight of the youngest adult generation – and in particular their mental health and financial situation.
Boomers were particularly worried about the inability of the younger generation to get on the property ladder.
More than half of the boomers surveyed felt they needed to help their children out financially now – rather than leaving an inheritance or forcing them to be self-sufficient.
But the research also revealed some boomers are still struggling to get on top of their own financial situation.
More than a quarter of the survey respondents still had a mortgage and of those, a quarter would not pay it off until they were between 70 and 80 years old.
More than a third also said they were not confident about having a comfortable lifestyle once they retire.
The research revealed the changing attitudes towards retirement with the term being seen as outdated and people more attracted to descriptions such as “the freedom years” or the “age of choice”.
Of those surveyed three-quarters of baby-boomers said they would like to work as long as they could while 41 per cent wanted to work flexibly – although only half felt they could talk to their employer about it.
Employers were seen as reticent to talk to older employees about a transition to more sustainable roles and hours.
Clare Hall-Taylor, director of HT Group which carried out the research on behalf of Bupa, Cigna and Nestle, said the finding dispelled the “selfish boomer” narrative.
“…they have greater humility, empathy and compassion than we may have previously given them credit for, and are living proof that ageing doesn’t necessarily mean giving up your lifestyle.”
Hall-Taylor said it was predicted that in 10 years time more than a third (36 per cent) of New Zealand’s population will be aged 50 or over.
She said it was vital for companies’ future success to ensure this age group felt valued, as both employees and consumers, yet the survey found evidence that many feel ignored.