One in three young Australians say they’ll be ‘much worse off’ than their elders, as wages stay low and house prices skyrocket

  • Three in four Australians under 30 believe future generations will be “worse off” than their elders, according to a new ABC survey.
  • Drawing from 60,000 responses, the 2021 Australia Talks survey found a third of Australians under 25 expect to be “much worse off” than older generations.
  • Those over 75 were most likely to express optimism, but the broader findings suggest pessimism across many axes of society.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Three quarters of Australians under 30 believe younger generations will be worse off than their elders, according to a new survey which outlines the generational faultlines and economic anxieties growing in Australian society.

The latest ABC Talks results, drawn from 60,000 respondents, suggests 33% of those aged between 18 and 24 believe they will be “much worse off” than older generations. Some 44% said they expected to be “somewhat worse off”.

That figure drops marginally to 32% and 42%, respectively, for those aged between 25 and 29.

Just 4% of those under 30 were confident life for future generations will be “much better” than their elders. Conversely, those aged over 75 were the most likely to say newer generations will have it easier, with 37% of respondents in that cohort revealing their optimism.

The figures follow research which shows young Australians are starting families later, having fewer children when they do, and delaying the purchase of their first homes in a white-hot property market.

The knock-on effect of those trends will create an ageing population with a slimming taxation base, and ensure there are fewer Australians paying tax to support more retirees.

Those trends were turbocharged by the coronavirus pandemic. Border closures cut population growth through migration, while vital fiscal support measures have racked up Australia’s deficit to staggering levels.

The tax burden in turn will be shouldered by young Australians, who are entering the peak of their economic activity — and sidelining other parts of their lives in the process.

ABC Talks reports about half of all Australians are skeptical they will have enough money in retirement, with women significantly less confident in their post-work economic security.

Stagnating wage growth has done little to shift the equation, while 43% Australians believe the nation is handling the threat of climate change “very poorly”, suggesting environmental and economic fears exist side by side.

Australians can see how their perspectives stack up to prior responses via the ABC Talks website, with the findings to be wrapped in a televised ABC special on Monday, June 21.