I have often expressed concern in the last few years that my baby boomer generation has pursued policies such as rapid population growth which have damaged the chances of the next generation. Recently I have referred to the Axis of Financial Evil confronting our children – student debt, job insecurity, and housing unaffordability.
Support for this concern comes from a report released yesterday by the Foundation for Young Australians. The report expressly says that today's young people face very different prospects from their parents: higher unemployment, large education debts and even larger housing debts, which will put home ownership out of the reach of many.
We are experiencing a new baby boom. Foundation Chief Executive Jan Owen says that over the next forty years Australia will experience a 50 per cent increase in the number of young people, who will rise from the present 4.3 million under the age of 24 to 6.3 million under the age of 24, making it the largest cohort of young people Australia has ever had.
But today's young people graduating from University will start their careers with over $24,000 more in student debt than their parents. Over 25 per cent of young people who do gain qualifications do not use those qualifications in their job. They are taking on three times as much debt as their parents did to buy their first home – houses are six times more expensive than they were in 1985. More than 38 percent of 18 to 24 year olds are overweight.
Jan Owen says we have a situation where the next generation could be worse off in many areas, and that we have a shrinking window of opportunity to ensure young people don't become the first generation of Australians to do worse than their forbears.
Kelvin Thomson is the ALP federal Member of Parliament for Wills Electorate.
This article was originally published on his blogspot on 11 November 2014.