Public opinion: The generation game | The Economist – A personal rejection by Dr Alf

This is a MUST READ article from the Economist. Check it out!

via Public opinion: The generation game | The Economist.

The article is helpful in that it clearly divides the generations into:

  1. Pre-war (before 1945)
  2. Baby-boomers (1945 to 1965)
  3. Generation X (1966 to 1979)
  4. Generation Y (1980 or later)

Generation Y is otherwise known more widely as the Millennials.

Otherwise, personally, I tend to believe that the argument and conclusions of the Economist article are a load of hogwash. Sweeping generalizations are made about generations in the UK and other countries. Reference is made to MORI data but without citing statistical details. As a trained researcher, with a doctorate, I am appalled at this quality reporting from a major international newspaper, like the Economist. I would have expected a newspaper with the Economist reputation to be championing evidence-based policy and journalism.

Economist: Paulson Wants Your Money

Economist: Paulson Wants Your Money (Photo credit:

Let me give you a flavor with two quotes:

According to Robert Ford of the University of Manchester, the gap between the “parochial” old and the “cosmopolitan” young is larger in Britain than in America, France or Spain, too.

Bobby Duffy of Ipsos MORI, who has conducted focus groups with members of this generation, reports that the prospect of retirement makes people more inward-looking, nostalgic and worried about their children’s chances, sharpening anxieties.

As a baby boomer, who has been a subscriber to the Economist for nearly fifty years, I am disappointed in this article as an example of quality journalism.

More particularly, I strongly reject the the naivety of the reference to the “parochial” old and the “cosmopolitan” young.

I am a “baby boomer” and proud of it. I have also worked and lived in many parts of the World throughout my life. After completing my Masters degree, I clearly pursued an international career. By definition, this makes me a cosmopolitan.  Over the years, I have met many “baby boomer” colleagues who followed colorful lives around the World, gaining real experience and truly understanding risk-taking.

For me, the Economist article is a weak attempt to create rivalry between generations and generate news ahead of political focus on the relative advantages and disadvantages of the generations.

In my view, ageism is alive, well and seemingly being promoted by the Economist.

The Economist article makes these sweeping generalizations without reference to sample size and sub-set data like:

  1. Income
  2. Wealth
  3. Occupation (and of both parents)
  4. Social class  (and of both parents)
  5. Race/ethnicity  (and of both parents)
  6. Country of birth  (and of both parents)
  7. Whether educated in private or state schooling  (and of both parents)
  8. Highest level of education  (and of both parents)
  9. Marital status
  10. Parental status
  11. Proficiency in foreign languages
  12. Number of years of overseas experience

Surely, it would be more constructive to identify how to help the the Millennials (Gen Y) and perhaps help them to leverage off the experience of the baby-boomers?

Any thoughts?


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