There is an underlying tendency in the UK for society to fail to recognise the needs and contribution of Britain’s older generations, particularly when compared to their younger counterparts. But a shift in attitudes is emerging. As millennials struggle with ever-increasing costs, fading hopes of buying a home and the burden of student debt, the influence of the older demographic - and their spending power - is increasingly being recognised.
This favouring of the young is evidenced in the fact that 63% of business leaders focus their campaigns and attention on a younger demographic, even though baby boomers currently outspend their younger counterparts across the spectrum. For instance, those born after World War II spend £4.3 billion more on utilities each year than those who came of age around 2000, according to the Institute of Customer Service - which also nods towards the fact they are owners of bigger, family homes, and not renting and sharing bills.
What’s more, younger households have not necessarily recovered fully from the effects of the 2007-2008 financial crisis. Wages have also not been risen in accordance with this trend and the older generations generally have significantly less debt and more assets. For instance, for those aged 30-49, wages have risen by 11% vs. a 30% rise for 50-64 year olds, according to the Government’s family spending report. Older people, in economic terms, are clearly in a privileged position.
And it’s not just their spending power that is the story here. ‘Encore careers’ are also on the up, where individuals who have worked in a certain industry for the majority of their lives decide to make a change to combine greater personal meaning with positive social impact. The Guardian recently cited the example of the former associate editor of the Financial Times, who recently gave up her high-flying career to train to become a maths teacher and devote more time towards her charitable endeavours.
Other individuals in what we may call the ‘later stages’ of their career can be supported by an organisation called Encore.org – designed to help those realise their potential and use their highly-honed skills for acts of good.
This shows that it is not just in the financial world that the older generations are making an important contribution. They are also taking decisive control of their careers, to the benefit of society. It’s clear that Britain’s older generations don’t just have significant spending power, but are also making a huge contribution to our economy and workforce.