HomeLifeAre us baby boomers to blame for everything?

Are us baby boomers to blame for everything?

“It’s all your boomers’ fault! “ declared my second son, after I inquired about his house-hunting escapades. “They own two or three houses as investments and have ruined it for us.” Seeing the look on my face, he then quickly backtracked, “Not you mum, just your generation.” 

It was nice to know I wasn’t instantly vilified and tarred, feathered and associated with my fellow boomers. I had for a nanosecond thought about cutting him out of the will.

The declaration from my well-educated son had been spurred on by someone writing a letter in a daily newspaper, asking a financial guru how he/she could keep their primary residence and beach house, and access the Age Pension. Son was both bemused and furious at the nerve of the person and, somehow, I copped some of the wrath.

The high cost of housing and the lack of affordable rentals is, of course, a continuing discussion in the media and no doubt in many boomer households. Many of us wonder how we can help our adult children even put a foot in the housing market, let alone purchase in a suburb near where they work or wish to live. It seems to be a problem in many Western countries and the need to find a scapegoat is high on the agenda for many disenfranchised souls. 

But is it all our fault? I do concede that as a proportion of income, the cost of housing is far greater than we had to endure. The ability to get a loan and to pay the exorbitant sums that are being asked for houses seems both absurd and terrifying.

Another friend’s son had had a chat with me about his house-hunting exploits too, and he quickly bemoaned the fact that he had a huge HECS debt that was a burden for his loan applications. 

I realised that my generation did not have this burden, thanks to Gough Whitlam, and I felt more than a level of guilt that I had sailed through my early adult life free of debt. Now, of course, this HECS debt is being taxed at the rate of CPI and with inflation raging, many young adults are accumulating an even bigger debt. It is demoralising to say the least.

But in conversation with other boomer friends, another aspect of this situation arose. “Well, we only had cast-off furniture, we didn’t go out for dinner, no Uber Eats for us, we didn’t get our nails done” came the factual refrains from my friends attempting to malign the younger generation’s spending habits. It all had tones of avocado on toast, the metaphor of the old denouncing the young eating breakfast out instead of sitting at home with Vegemite on toast. The common view was that our children needed to pull their heads in more, save like crazy and make do with a very basic house and lifestyle. For a while. Perhaps until we dropped off our collective perches.

So, each generation is blaming the other for the housing crisis, when it seems to me that the problem has been an attitudinal shift in how we view housing. Instead of seeing the need for a place to live, a sanctuary from the barbarians at the gate, society now sees housing as an investment, a way to make money, to increase your wealth at the expense of the community. Greed rears its head.

I have no reassuring answer though. Perhaps we should push for changes in legislation that limits the number of investment properties or change the taxation laws regarding housing investments. But blaming one generation over the other solves nothing.

Is it fair to blame the baby boomer generation for the current housing crisis? Or are young people pointing the finger unfairly? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Also read: Grumpy person episode three – or is it four?


  1. It takes builders to build houses and we have a shortage of builders, those we do have seem to be engaged in building or refurbishing sporting arenas which the young want. So how many of the Uni crowd are prepared to get their hands dirty and learn a building trade to get stuck in or is it yet another group, not theirs which is supposed to sacrifice their education to house them?

  2. I think a more in depth research needed not reaction to emotive articles …. data shows older Aussies used to own majority of investment places …currently working age Australians dominate when comes to investment properties.

  3. The problem is far bigger, more complex and layerd than that. There are multiple levels of exploitation in every aspect of housing, for eg
    Land banking, and who gets the concession to aquire this subdividable residential land. (Almost certain to have some level of corruption there)
    Land bankers drip feeding the market to keep prices obscenely high. Land used to cost around 1/3 of the build price. Not now.
    Excessive Bsnk lending, massive multiples of income lending for mortgages rather than the 3x 1 wage or 4 of that single wage if in a couple. Remember the vast sums borrowed add to the demand equation.
    World beating tax concessions for speculators and investors. These do not increase building supply but displace rral buyers from the second hand home market
    Ignorant politicians increasing the immigration rate, way beyond our capacity to keep up with demand for housing or infrastructure.
    As for not enough builders, we’ll instead of taking on 1000s a year, they choose the lazy route and rely on immigrants.
    Next we have the massive money laundering market whereby people from anywhere can turn up with a bag of cash and buy an Australian house with no questions asked of its pedigree. The foreign buyers put huge pressure on our housing stock and prices.
    I’m sure there is fare more beyond this that I’m not privy to.

  4. Total fabrication with people blaming the boomers for all their ills. I was born in the 40s nobody I knew had the option of going to university, we left school at 14/15 years of age, we paid board to our parents who had struggled to raise a family. We married young, bought cheaply in suburbs that we could afford, our first place was a two bedroom fibro with dunny and wash house out the back, had to move from Sydney to Wollongong, even then had to look for the cheapest suburb to buy in, one car per household, no phone, today multiple cars in the driveway, tv in every room, bedroom for every child, phones that cost a fortune and everyone above 5/6 has to have one. The along come the 60s we find ourselves off to another war, people still struggling today, that was our privileged past. Todays struggle is I can’t get reception in the upper Himalayan mountains while I’m on my gap year, try getting a job and paying your own way instead of having everything handed to you on a plate. Rant over we all want better for our children than we had ourselves, and to a large extent that has been achieved. The world is a much smaller place than it used to be, information is much more accessible today, I’m not sure people appreciate the struggle their parents made or their parents parents for that matter, every generation has different struggles, I have every faith in today’s generation that they too will manage their struggles.

    • Agree with you completely interesting to see coffee shops ,nail beauty saloons, restaurants packed out no indication of cost of living by these people. I think the major problem with the housing is albo bringing 200000 immigrants to this country each year so need 200000 houses for these people.

  5. My take on the situation is that so many media, radio jocks, etc keep telling people the boomers have all these investment properties, insane superannuation and they made the property prices surge. I do believe it is harder for the younger generation to purchase a property due to many factors, but then you have younger people who do own their own property and usually from working from a young age, saving, not going out, doing things us older people had to do. HECS debt does come into play for alot of people, but in saying that how many are in jobs relating to their degree? I see what my children are paying for their HECS after finishing – one had to get a job overseas for their field, another one dropped out after a year but is still paying off their debt, and the third is interviewing for jobs overseas as there are no openings in Aus. Schools need to encourage more kids to take up trades, or go to TAFE, as not everyone is capable or wants to go to Uni. My child that dropped out of Uni has always been fully employed in various roles but at their school they were repeatedly told that Uni was the way to go to get anywhere in this world. People also need to look at more intergenerational living as part of the solution.

  6. I’m with jheslehurst49@gmail.com on this argument. Our first home (1973) cost over 6 times our income, and it was a humble 30-yr-old 2 bedroom worker’s cottage in need of very extensive repair. And interest rates were 7.5% and rising and rose to over 18%. We had to borrow the legal costs and stamp duty from our solicitor on a private loan. I grew and sold vegetables, made and sold sauces and pesto, sewed children’s clothes and took in ironing to pay it off because there was no childcare back then to allow parents to work. Very few I knew got higher education. Most left school at age 15 and helped their parents financially. We had two holidays before our youngest started uni – one a camping holiday. And I could count on one hand the number of times we ate in a restaurant. We packed sandwiches for picnics. I never even saw a manicure salon or massage place, let alone a mobile dog wash or lawn mowing service.
    The standard of living now is high. The average home is 4 bed, 2+ bath, 2+ living room, landscaped yard and attached double garage with 2 near new SUVs in it. Of course it’s going to cost more than a humble old run-down cottage!
    One thing I think the govt should do urgently to address the housing problem, though, is do as Canada did recently and ban non-citizens from buying property. The huge immigration Albanese is facilitating is definitely going to push up housing demand and therefore prices, so stopping non-citizens buying would be a big step in the right direction.
    We could also look at what some Scandinavian countries do – giving every newly married couple a home financed by the government and paid for out of wages and salary over their lifetime.

    I don’t see any positives in blaming Boomers for the crisis and I don’t think it’s fair. These young folk seem to forget that Boomers didn’t have superannuation. My daughter complains of not owning a home but they have over $600K in super between them. I never had a cent until age 50! Most Boomers retire with very little super. And there’s another option. Let people use their super to buy a modest home, because a home is a far better asset in retirement than superannuation. Many will draw their super on retirement anyway, to buy a house at 20 times the price they could have bought at 2+ decades prior, after paying a huge portion of their income in rent that should have been used for home repayments and then saving as their home repayments as a portion of income gradually reduced.

    I also note that some young folk who are not in favoured situations at all manage to buy a home and that they say they do it by living frugally, saving well, and settling for a modest affordable home rather than wanting luxury. One I read about recently did it while building a business as an electrician. Bought at age 22. It can be done. So it’s nobody else’s fault if some (or even many) don’t do it.

  7. I am bornone month and 4 days prior to being called a baby boomer.
    A western suburbs boy with parents damaged by the war years.
    Public school educated,then off to Perth tech.
    Married at 20 and build our lives gradually.
    2 children,I had 2 jobs,wife worked part time,close group of school friends, entertainment was BBQ at friends places. Milk bar,not coffee shops.
    Yes time at the pub.
    No expectation of becoming wealthy,
    The enjoyment of doing without so our children could have say a nice bike(I had my sisters hand me down) gave us great satisfaction.
    Our savings were basically our tax cheque refund.
    We’re we envious of people who were doing a bit better economically than us nope.
    Quality of life was what it was all about.
    We helped our children get into the real estate market as they are helping theirs.
    We are now elderly and are separated as my wife has advanced Alz.
    We have loved our life and feel satisfied we have helped our siblings through the financial stress of today.
    I find the constant “noise” by young journalists in their negativity towards a prior group of Australians so offensive and selfish it saddens me.
    Rather than eager to build a life gradually I have observed many fellow Australians who want it all immediately .
    Perhaps led by Governments who seem to have forgotten older Australians and do not provide good examples of respect and leadership.
    I am not a pensioner but for a Government to be more than 120 days behind in processing pension documents for the elderly might be a better use of brain power than being envious of previous Aussies who are now facing the challenge of Age and poor health.


  8. You people are clueless houses then were 25000 now 1.5 million so you seem to have gathered a bit of free equity. Every tax payer is helping with your 20th house through low tax through imagined or made up loss .go to any country you please and guess what a foreigner cant own the land or the first floor .but here in good old aus its catered for on a platter with people calling in matter of fact , from any country you like and place your bid .we should have a maximum of 1 house per person and must be a citizen with permanent residence any houses would then also not be vacant for any length of time ,and with no negative gearing and no tax offsets lets turn a house into somewhere to live rather than a money making schemme for the greedy and well off ,otherwise what happens on the crazy game when the median is 4 million for your housing area little lone the real estate agent clapping with glee as they just made % 10 to %15 off your sale . So get down off your high horse granny and granpa treat everyone fairly then there is no us and them and also these are your children and grand children ,same as the franking credits wanting to be paid back for taxes you never paid is all fair and above board off course not , just more schemes for the old and rich with little idea or care whats hurting others

  9. You can blame the baby boomers as much as you like, it won’t do anyone any good. Why? The baby boomers lived in a different economic era. When we grew up, went to school and university, and worked in various industries and sectors, Australia was a closed economy, not subject to external influences. Our economy operated on self-regulation, such as the Industrial Relationship with union bargaining power. We had average wages and minimum wage. We have a tariff system to control imports to protect our manufacturing and service industries. With Globalisation, the old industrial relationship has been removed and replaced by individual bargaining power. Big corporations have more power over their workers. The lifestyle of the baby boomers was different from the x, y, and z generations. With the advance of technology, the younger generations want to satisfy themselves instantly. Back in the old days, we had to save money to purchase a car and a house. I did not have a holiday or an overseas trip until I was in my thirties. These youngsters travelled everywhere before they turned twenty-one. Their lifestyle is different from ours. How can it be our fault?

  10. We are constantly being blamed for everything that is wrong in the world,, BUT …….
    I know that there are somethings that we are totally to blame for:-
    Computers, Laptops, Tablets, Smart Phones, WiFi, Mobile Phone Services, Modern HD/UHD TV’s, Solar PV Panels & Inverters, Modern Automotive Vehicles and the Built-in Safety Modules (Airbags, Crumple Zones, Seatbelts etc), Modern Aviation, and the associated ease of travel.
    So,, remove all of these, and the ones that I can’t immediately think of, and what would the Younger Generations be like ??

  11. I agree with most of the boomers comments above. I don’t see any positives in blaming Boomers for the crisis and I don’t think it’s fair. These young folk seem to forget that Boomers didn’t have superannuation. I never had a cent until in my 50’s and then I was only working part-time as well as volunteering in heaps of organsations which is a thing that most 50’s and below these days don’t do much of. Most Boomers retire with very little super. Let people use their super to buy a modest home.
    We were married early 1972 (both worked full time) and rented until we could build a very small 3 bedroom, 1 bath house on a block of land my husband bought in 1969. We moved into our home in 1974 and our first child was born 13 months’ later, our 2nd child in 1977. I was a stay-at-home mother as was expected of wives back in the 70’s. We didn’t go out very often, but we had a roof over our heads, food on the table and very often only had a few dollars in the bank. Our youngest daughter who was a single mother with 2 young children after 10 years of marriage has now got her own massage business and owns her own home even though it was an ex-Housing commission house she has renovated. She has worked very hard and is in need of a back surgery (job related)- her eldest has just finished his apprenticeship as a plumber and her daughter is in her 2nd year at university. Our son who is 49 and was a chef for years has always had a rental property as hospitality is seasonal work but in 2018 he went as a cleaner for holiday rentals and was earning as much money as a chef but no weekend or night work. Then came C**** and he started an apprenticeship as a butcher. During 2002 & 2003 he became a father to 2 children & then 2007 – 2012 had 3 FLC each taking 2 years. We helped him both financially and looking after the children. My husband & I are 77 & 78 we each have a car (not SUV’s) we still live in the same house we built in 1974 (with an addition added in 1980). Neither of us have owned a mobile phone. I am still heavily involved as a volunteer. My husband grows much of our vegetables. We have a different lifestyle from the majority of young ones of today who think they should have everything that opens and closes NOW. I don’t agree with what the Federal Government want to do – lend money to buy homes but the govt will always own 40% – don’t trust them!

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