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'60s generation is heading for conventional old age
Date:10/8/2008

Britain's post-war baby boomers, associated throughout their lives with social change, are failing to break new ground in their approach to growing old.

Academic research supported by the Economic and Social Research Council and Arts and Humanities Research Council shows that most members of the baby boom generation often regarded as the first teenagers of a more affluent consumer society - have modest ideas for their retirement. While some plan substantial projects, particularly in relation to travel or using second homes, most people's ideas for spending time after retirement retain a traditional pattern watching television and films, playing records or going for long walks.

Findings from the study, says Dr Rebecca Leach, "provide only limited evidence that first wave boomers are developing new third age lifestyles." Most have fairly modest aspirations, hoping at best to maintain current lifestyles and activities provided health and finances permit them to do so. The range of lifestyles is greater than would have been the case with previous generations but there is little evidence of 'alternative' models of consumption. Alternative health provision, for example, was widely practiced by between only three-seven per cent of people interviewed for the research. Many of those questioned "professed a critique of materialism, yet demonstrated ambivalence about this in practice."

The first wave baby boom generation, born between 1945 and 1954, represents 17 per cent of the UK population. Born at a time of austerity, this group later experienced relative prosperity and the emergence of a mass consumer society. The research project by Dr Leach at Keele University and King's College, London, looked in particular at the role of consumption in approaches to adult ageing. It examined the extent to which baby boomers see themselves as part of a distinctive generational group, and how this might affect consumption patterns.

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Contact: Danielle Moore
pressoffice@esrc.ac.uk
44-017-934-13122
Economic & Social Research Council
Source:Eurekalert

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