NZ Herald business editor at large

Liam Dann: Talkin' about their generation

All those Facebook shares, Twitter hashtags and Snapchat videos couldn't save Britain's youth from being the big losers in the Brexit referendum.

About 75 per cent of those aged under 24 voted Remain, and 56 per cent of those 25-49. It was the rebellious baby boom generation that led the charge out of the EU.

They've unleashed one final, foolish act of revolution but their children and grandchildren aren't thanking them. Anger is boiling up in the UK where young people feel they have had their future undermined.

Older people are more settled and less concerned by the restrictions on travel and job mobility. Many young people feel they have had their passports to international opportunity revoked. The demographic bulge of the baby boom gives a lot of power to one increasingly aged group.

Let's face it, the boomers have dominated political discourse since the first bars of The Who's My Generation snarled across the airwaves.

How did those lyrics go again?

As we age, we inevitably feel a bit disenfranchised from a world that has changed radically from the one we grew up in.

In my mid-40s I feel it creeping up on me already. Pop music these days really sucks, right?

I think so, but I'm wrong. My kids love the Top-40 and already laugh at my confusion over which social media app is which.

Should the votes of older people carry less weight on long term issues? That is a very big call.

Older voters held more sway in the Brexit referendum, not just because of the size of the post-war generation.

Voting patterns show the turnout of younger voters was much lower - meaning they kind of have themselves to blame.

Democracy still requires you to make the effort to vote.

But it does feel like we are seeing a generational conflict emerge in the Western world of an intensity not seen since the 1960s.

We're seeing it in New Zealand with the intense debate over soaring house prices and how to fix them.

The battle over Auckland's Unitary Plan and rules which would allow more intensive development of established voters came to a stand-off between young and old at a meeting in St Heliers earlier this year.

Ultimately, generational warfare does no one any good. And it is never really resolved.

Time is on your side - as some old boomer once said. Each generation moves into the establishment eventually, it's just that when you get there you've aged and your outlook has changed.

- Herald on Sunday

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NZ Herald business editor at large

Liam Dann is business editor at large at the New Zealand Herald. He has been a journalist for 20 years, covering business for the last 14 of them. He has also worked in the banking sector in London and travelled extensively. His passion is for Markets and Economics, because they are the engine of the New Zealand economy. He hosts The Economy Hub video show every Thursday.

Read more by Liam Dann

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