Thursday, March 19, 2015

Australian's loss of faith in an age of ennui

Yesterday at tennis, youngest commented that she and most of her generation had given up on the idea of home ownership. I argued against that view, saying that at the other end of life, home ownership was the difference between security and constant insecurity. She accepted that, but still argued that home ownership was no longer an achievable dream for young people.

I mention this because some interesting polling by Essential Research showed some clear age related differences between responses on particular issues. Take the demand for older workers to work longer. Mr Hockey doesn't need to convince older Australian workers. The poll showed that 52% of those in the 55+ age bracket think that it would be good for Australia to have more older people staying in the workforce. By contrast, only 29% of those aged between 18 and 34 thought that this would be good for Australia. You can see their viewpoint.

There is one question, however, on which a majority of voters appear to agree. Australians will be worse off over the next forty years as compared to today. Retirees in particular are expected to be worse off.

I have a few problems with the way Essential presented their question, as well as a frustration that they did not provide a generational perspective to the answers. That said, the results fit with my impressions just based on continuing chats with different age groups.

I would like to see some really detailed polling exploring the inter-generational similarities and differences in views, as well the drivers of those views. I can surmise, but I would like to know.

It's quite important. If, for example, a clear majority of Australians think that we are all going to be worse off regardless, then it becomes extremely hard to persuade voters to accept changes intended to improve positions in particular areas on the grounds of pain now for later gains..At the extreme, why should I accept the pain when it doesn't matter anyway, when we are all going to be worse off anyway?

I grew up in an age that believed in progress, in the possibility of improvement, in the likelihood of advance. We appear to have lost that. I think that's a problem.


Winton Bates has brought up a companion post, Have Australians become highly pessimistic about prospects for future generations?. I will comment on Winton's material later.

In commenting, Cecilia has also added a link to a fascinating piece on the demographic changes happening in Japan, Hidden Behind Tokyo: Japan’s Rural Periphery. Oh, and Cecilia's blog is worth a read too.


Evan said...

I think it is a big problem too.

I think part of the problem is the professionalisation of politics. Buying a particular party by voting is very different to being a party member.

And when millions march for a cause and the PM of the time says, "Well millions didn't" and ignores the cause - well, the message about the usefulness of political protest is pretty clear.

Jim Belshaw said...

Given our previous exchanges, Evan, you might suspect that I agree with you on the professionalisation of politics!

I am confused on your second point. Not about the point, just my reactions. I think that is millions, or at least large numbers, march often enough they will make their point or at least force a compromise.

Anonymous said...

Loss of hope, 'given up any hope', is a factor leading to anarchism, no? I don't think your daughter would be that way inclined, or 'most of her generation'.

So it seems to me that despite the occasional annoyance, they are more probably satisfied with just tooling along as they are. Nothing deep, just - I don't see Evan's marching in the streets reaction to or about anything much, really.

Not lazy, just not overly fussed enough to make much ado about anything. Maybe it's the flouridation :)


Evan said...

The younger generation engages in activism around issues. I think (for good reason) they don't see the major parties as bringing anything like the extent of change needed. for instance. Or fair trade and the variations around the issue.

There is also some development in business of 'doing well while doing good'.

Winton Bates said...

Hi Jim,
I think the surveys which ask young people whether they think they will have a better life than their parents (and vice versa) are asking a better question than most surveys which attempt to measure perceptions of progress.
Like you, I have some problems with this survey, but it would not surprise me if young people in Australia have become more pessimistic.
It is worth looking at further.

Cecilia said...

It's not just Australia.

Winton Bates said...

That is true, Cecilia. The data I have seen suggests that people in low income countries that have been experiencing rapid economic growth are more optimistic than people in high income countries. The GFC has shaken confidence in high income countries, but there may be more to it than that.

Jim Belshaw said...

I had to think about your comment for a moment, kvd. Just because people have a general expectation that certain things are likely to get worse in a general sense does not mean that they apply this to themselves. Then, too, people do just tool along and not just young people.

I don't think that this detracts from the general points I was making however.

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi Winton, Celia. I think you noted that data on your blog, Winton. It would be interesting to see some consolidated comparative data.

Winton Bates said...

Hi Jim
I am getting some data together to publish on my blog. International comparisons for 2013 and 2014 suggest Australians have been more optimistic than Europeans.

Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks, Winton. Look forward to reading that material. Wouldn't surprise me on Europe vs Oz.

Cecilia said...

Many students I teach in Japan have very little sense that the future will be better. Talking to old people here they often say that when they were young, they could see that people were getting more prosperous, that living standards are improving. With much of the country now working for minimum wages (10$ an hour). This includes people with degrees. Young people here have never known anything but recession and many don't really have a sense that things could or should be better.

Cecilia said...
I'm not sure how interested you are in Japan, but the rural situation in parts of Japan magnifies the difficulties of the young generation.

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi Celia. I am running a bit ragged time wise and will respond later. But I am very interested in Japan and have the link you provided onto the main post. My thanks.

Anonymous said...

Jim, on your survey of one, however precious(HP), responder and Winton's (W) very thorough follow up (of Essential Research's (ER) survey of 1000+) there are a couple of points worth querying.

1) Has HP read the Intergenerational Report (IGR); how many of HP's confreres have read the report, or at least the Executive Summary? Does HP accept that transient things such as the country being run by a clown, with his worst excesses subject only to the shifting alliances of a car enthusiast, a dinosaur modeller, and a cat fancier fill HP with (1) dread (2) forboding (3) gleeful irony (4) don't know?

2) On Winton's careful analysis of Essential (love it - the sheer irony of it) Research's polling of 1016 people I note that a mere 19% had either 'a lot' or 'some' awareness of the IGR. So that would be 190-193 people?

3) of those 190 persons, who are presumably the only ones entitled to offer considered comment upon the follow up question re 'will be worse off', roughly 70% thought we would either be 'worse off' (no definition?) or 'no change'. That leaves us with about 60 people who neatly divide between 'better off' (i.e. believe in unicorns - looking at you Evan :) or 'don't know'

4) And that leaves the disturbing fact that 30 people were honest enough to say they 'don't know'

Out of all this, what I'd really like to know is:

1) is HP an ER respondent?
2) has HP read the IGR?
3) does W believe HP should read the IGR before her response is given any validity?

Thank you and, as most seem to put it these days, your welcome.


Jim Belshaw said...

Dear Sir aka kvd

I refer to you comment of the 22nd inst. I am unable to contact HP because she is watching the Brumbies play Waratahs. She does not follow Rugby unlike OHP, but the tickets were free.

All that said, my answers to your questions are as follows:
1. HP has not read to IGR nor, to the best of my knowledge, have any of her friends. Indeed, I have not met anyone who has read it in full - except me, of course, and I need to acquire a life.

2. I think that HP would regard a country run by a clown, a car enthusiast a dinosaur or a cat fancier as perfectly rational. Indeed, assuming that she can get Toothless of the keyboard while she is also painting her Sailor Moon model or reviewing the latest computer game, she would regard any of those listed as more qualified to run the country than those actually doing so.

Mind you, she is actually a Green supporter. Where did I go wrong? I blame failures in the existing system.

W must speak for himself. But from a personal perspective, I believe that all rational Australians should read those reports. You may not learn a lot, but will come up with a valuable understanding of modern graphic graphic design as applied in Government circles.

I remain, yours faithfully etc etc

Anonymous said...

And, as if predetermined by the non-existent god of all, there comes this totally to the point comment upon polls:

Me, I always thank them for their first question: "how are you today" - and then hang up.

That aside, I do wonder about telephone polling to landlines being very skewed towards older more sedentary persons. And that's why the Qld result was not a surprise; and that's why Mr Baird really does have a fight on his hands - despite the polling thus far. I think he is in fact very close to losing his remit.


Anonymous said...

Cecilia that is a really interesting article you linked. Many thanks!

Jim, I was struck by the similarities between some of the content of that link and your own many comments upon attempts to assist our own disadvantaged peoples.


Jim Belshaw said...

That's certainly true, kvd. Like you, I am grateful to Cecilia for sharing it with us.

Dr Purva Pius said...
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