The postwar generation has enjoyed a seemingly unbroken run of good luck, from free university education to the house price boom. Even in retirement their good fortune continues, with many enjoying generous final salary pensions. The facts speak for themselves. More than 80% of the nation's £6.7 trillion in wealth is owned by baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964). Collectively, the country owns £2.6 trillion in shares and savings – and those aged 50 to 64 own £1 trillion of this. A third of the £1.8 trillion held in pension funds is owned by this age group (and a further quarter is owned by those aged between 45 and 50). And they own 40% of the £2.5trn tied up in property. In fact, property has been such a staggeringly good investment for this generation that one in five baby boomers owns a second home.
As Will Hutton of the Work Foundation – and a baby boomer himself – pointed out: "Having enjoyed a life of free love, free school meals, free universities, defined benefit pensions, mainly full employment and a 40-year-long housing boom, the baby boomers are bequeathing their children sky-high house prices, debts and shrivelled pensions. A 60 year-old today is a very privileged and lucky human being."
The question is how much we owe to future generations. Having benefited so much from our circumstances, I believe we have a duty to care for our children and our children's children. Which is why I approve of the austerity packages being introduced in Europe and America. To spend even more on our ease and comfort and load the bill (as debt) on future generations seems to me to be wickedly selfish. In particular, our 10-year extra longevity should be paid for by us, not our children and pensions must be adjusted accordingly. Neither should we be 'ski-ing' (spending the kids' inheritance). All that wealth accumulated in property should be passed on.