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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Benaut, 6 April 2011
This review is from: The Pinch: How the Baby Boomers Took Their Children's Future - And How They Can Give it Back (Hardcover)
A fascinating read but never has the saying " a picture tells a thousand words" been more true. The arguements are statistically based and are often difficult to follow but there's not a single statistical 'picture'. Even when defining the generations using birth rates there's no chart. It could have been so clear, but it's not!
A good story lost in the telling.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 24 Jul 2011, 12:32:54 BST
Response to Benaut:

I agree with your criticism! Here is a useful graph from another source: Search for the official statistics document "The UK population: past, present and future", file-name 01_fopm_population.pdf, and look at figure 1.13 on page 11. (Enlarge it to have a closer look). Here are important facts - the demographic evidence of the birth-rate in the UK is that there wasn't actually a single baby-boom!

There was what I'll call a "baby-spike" immediately after the war. This 2nd highest birth rate of the 20th century peaked in 1946/7, and lasted very few years. The reason for that spike is obvious. (For example, my parents met during the war and I was born in 1947).

Then there was what I'll call a "baby-peak" 19 years later. This highest birth-rate of the 20th century peaked about 1965, and was much greater and longer-lasting than the 1946/7 baby-spike. In fact, the birth-rate during the baby-peak stayed at least at the 1946/7 baby-spike rate for about 10 years, and arguably (make your own choice from figure 1.13) the baby-peak lasted from about 1959 to 1971. I don't know what caused that baby-peak, but perhaps it was something to do with increasing confidence in the future?

This suggests that there are really 2 relevant cohorts rather than one. The smaller of these cohorts covers births from 1946 to about 1950. The larger, and potentially more important, cohort covers the range from about 1959 to 1971. (But judge for yourself from the graph of figure 1.13). These should probably be thought of as separate generations, although they overlap a bit.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Sep 2011, 15:29:35 BST
Grace Swan says:
As a member of the second cohort I see a big difference between my own situation and that of the first. The first cohort are now AT retirement age, have paid off their mortgages and having had children earlier have seen their children through higher education - they're the ones who are sitting pretty. The second cohort are still 20 years from a retirement age which is running away from them, still have mortgages to pay and due to having been encouraged to breed later in life often still have wholly dependent children not yet out of secondary education! Add those obligations to a shrinking economy in which the older downsized worker is increasingly undesirable whatever their educational attainments and many of my cohort will be wrecked on the rocks by the current global financial storm and face as grim a future prospect as their offspring.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Oct 2011, 22:38:30 BST
Ben P says:
Yes I agree. There are 2 peaks that have important differences and as you point out quite a bit of time between them. Willetts recognises this but he doesn't clearly label the 2 separate peaks and keep them distinct throughout the book. Perhaps because they don't affect is broad message, and both peaks have 'done well' out of their demographic size and timing.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Oct 2011, 12:26:04 BST
I believe the implications for the two peaks are totally different. If his statements are true at all (and I believe he exaggerates quite a bit), they are mainly true for the 2nd peak.

The first peak is just too small to have much dominant effect. It lasted VERY few years, and the ones still alive represent a smaller peak than those still alive from the 2nd peak. The main characteristic is that the women in the 1st peak have now nearly all past state pension age, and the men are just about to. These are people who happen to be old enough to have paid off their mortgages; it is their age that singles them out, not the fact they are part of a (tiny) peak. Many are desperately struggling with poor pensions (if any).

I have covered this in some detail on my blog under the headings "The myth of the UK baby-boom" and "The myth of a baby-boom-led housing crisis". (They will be found easily via a search).

Remember that some of the people in the 2nd peak are the children of those in the first peak: it is wrong in those cases to call this "inter-generational conflict" between baby boomers and the rest!
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