Are the generations at war?

By Jill Sheppard, PhD '14

One third of all Australian members of 'Generation Y' - those aged between 18 and 34 - believe "older Australians should be careful with their money so they can leave an inheritance".

Across all ages, only 26 per cent agree.

That is what data collected by researchers in the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods says, as part of the ANUpoll series of surveys of public opinion and attitudes in Australia.

Are the grim stereotypes of under 30s true?

Are they indeed living at home, leaning on parents' care, just waiting for elderly relatives to drop off the perch and leave behind cash and jewels?

Unfortunately, the overall picture from this data does not particularly flatter Australian Gen Y. They are the most likely to expect to inherit property or cash at some point in their life.

In their defence, they have the longest time span (on average) in which this might happen, so higher expectations may reflect a rational assessment of lifetime likelihood.

Alongside those aged 75 and over, they are also the most likely to expect to receive the age pension upon retirement (and reaching the eligibility age).

Perhaps this helps to explain the fact that those under 35 are the least likely to be saving for retirement, beyond making compulsory contributions to superannuation.

However, respondents in their 20s are likely making incidental savings for retirement, including mortgage payments.

On the other hand, Gen Y respondents are the most likely to agree that older Australians should enjoy their retirement and not worry about leaving an inheritance.

As the age of respondents increases, so does disagreement with this sentiment.

Those aged over 75 are least likely to agree.

We can take heart that there is at least one expression of intergenerational goodwill and harmony among younger Australians.