Are Baby Boomers THE economy?

When asked about the impact that Baby Boomers leaving the workforce would have on the US economy, Bill Clinton replied, “they are the economy.”

From the time they were born, Baby Boomers have dominated the economy and the organisations that make it up. Currently they run the majority of ASX listed companies, boards and government departments. They entered the workforce with full employment and huge demands for their services and right now, at the tail end of their careers, they are still the topic of conversation (retaining mature workers) and are in demand for their skills and experience.    

There is no doubt that some subtle and often unspoken age bias still exists in today’s public and private sector organisations. Even though there is no research that proves any limitation by age, stereotypes about the learning abilities of older people persist in our society. A recent survey by Adage (a company that specialises in finding employment for mature workers) found that managers in 124 companies believe older workers are more expensive and less productive than younger workers and have less technological ability.

This perception is a roadblock for organisations who need to work with managers to ensure that they embrace the age diversity available to them and acknowledge that it is reflective of the population and the clients that they will serve.  It is also at odds with the social representation of Baby Boomers. Do not say ‘old’ to a Baby Boomer! They do not think of themselves as pensioners now or in the future.

Indeed, they believe they invented adolescence and in many respects they are aspirational Y Genners – they buy iPods, have piercings and tattoos, indulge in extreme sports and wear the same clothes as their children. The Australian Pensioners’ Insurance Agency recently changed their name to APIA – evidence that they would be unable to attract their target demographic – over 50 year olds – if they had an uncool name.

So, what do you think?  Was Bill Clinton right?  Are Baby Boomers THE economy?


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