Peace treaty in the ‘generation wars’

Peace treaty in the ‘generation wars’

Peace treaty in the ‘generation wars’

If Millennials, Baby Boomers and Gens X and Z would stop flinging insults and avocado at each other, they would find they have quite a lot in common, according to a social researcher headed to Cairns this month.

Associate Professor Dan Woodman is a chief investigator in the long-running ‘Life Patterns’ research study of the transition to adulthood of young Australians.

He said that despite a popular view that pitted pampered or angry Millennials against complacent Baby Boomers or Gen Xers, intergenerational relationships within families and communities were better than they had been in years and Cairns was no exception.

“It is now the norm for young adults to live longer in the family home, and mum and dad increasingly expect it," Dr Woodman said. "Yet, the primary reason young people are staying at home longer is that education takes longer, entry-level jobs are less secure, and housing is further out of reach."

“Youth unemployment in Queensland is almost 14 per cent and although Cairns has done particularly well over the past year in creating opportunities for young people, underemployment and insecure employment are common and it takes longer for young people to find their feet.”

Dr Woodman will deliver the Courtenay Lecture at JCU Cairns with a presentation titled, ‘After the Generations Wars: Building a better future for the young people’ on October 17. The free presentation will highlight the challenges and opportunities shaping the lives of young Australians and what likely lies in store for the generation coming after them.

In Cairns, Millennials (aged between 25 and 39) are the smallest generational group at 18.8 per cent of the region’s population. The largest group is Generation Z (people aged between 4 and 24), at 25 per cent of the city’s population, according to the most recent census figures.

Around 21 per cent of Cairns people fall into Generation X (aged 40-54), and 22 per cent are Baby Boomers (aged 55-75).

Dr Woodman said there was a tendency in society to understand the world through the lens of generational difference, even conflict, which was shaping the way people thought about the relationship between young people and their parents’ generation.

“What is most striking, though, is the similarities, and the fact that today’s young people share many of the same dreams for the future as generations past,” said Dr Woodman.

“There are important questions about intergenerational equity that Australia must face up to, but there is no generation war.”

The University of Melbourne’s ‘Life Patterns’ study has followed two generations of Australian youth through their young adult lives. Dr Woodman and his team have examined the data for new knowledge and trends to explain how two generations of young Australians are negotiating a rapidly-changing world.

Interested in finding out more? Secure a free seat to the 2019 Courtney Lecture.

If you are curious about society and want to develop critical thinking skills, discover more about JCU Arts and Social Sciences.

Feature image: Shutterstock

Published 7 Apr 2020