The Freetirement Generation
Research commissioned by Friends Provident
The issue of what it means to be old in the twenty first century is of increasing importance to the economic, political, social and cultural future of Britain. As the post-war Baby Boomer boomer generation (those born between 1946 and 19641) begin to reach retirement age, much speculation surrounds the question of exactly how the world's 'first teenagers' are going to grow old. The Baby Boomers are the first generation to use consumer products as vital ingredients in defining who they are. They are also of the generation of the civil rights movement, of feminism, and of the social and political liberation that characterised the counterculture of the 1960s. Now they are beginning to retire in their millions, with greater longevity and more freedom than any other generation before them. This report from the Social Issues Research Centre analyses the opinions, experiences and the expectations of older people in order to find out what it means to grow old in the UK today. It also examines the characteristics of the generation that will immediately succeed them.
For the latest generation of old people, and for society in general, modern retirement presents an interesting set of questions. Often to the resentment of their children, Baby Boomers grew up in a period of distinct and unprecedented social and economic change, and will often tell you so. Raised in the very early years of the consumer capitalism that flourishes today, theirs was the first generation to know what it felt like to be a teenager. Theirs was a generation of political activism, of sexual liberation and, of course, rock n roll, but also of marriage and family, steady jobs and a pervasive, intensive, iconographic consumer culture. Today, this is the generation of retirement. Older people - Mick Jagger, David Bowie and Tony Blair included - now make up 42% of the adult UK population.
- How will those living through this significant demographic shift experience 'retirement', whatever that really means, and how do the newer generations of British citizens anticipate growing old?
- How will the legacy of the Baby Boomer generation's youth be played out in old age?
- Will the increasingly large retiring population be characterised by the same attitudes and outlooks that stereotypically characterised their youth?
- Or will they slip comfortably into the feet-up, knitwear stereotype of old age?
- Are they likely to bungee-jump themselves into their twilight years, as recent reports featuring extreme sports-minded grandparents suggest?
- Will there be there a happy medium between these two extremes
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