The Generation Gap that Divides Australia
The term “generation gap” is sometimes a cliché, however new research conducted here at Edentify shows that not only is the generation gap alive and well, it also goes a long way to explaining the division and conflict in social and political discussions today.
The Edentify Voice of Australia survey interviewed 1000 Australians in August 2019 to uncover their views on where Australia is now, where it is heading, and some of the important issues facing the country.
This year’s election seemed to bring out major disagreements and arguments on a whole range of issues. It was apparent that, whatever side of the discussion people were on, they could not understand the perspective of the “other side”. This research provides some insight into why this is the case, and a lot of it is clearly divided by age.
What is clear is that there are stark differences in the way that young and old people view Australia. This is most obvious when looking at generational differences between Gen Z (under 23) and the Silent Generation (74 and over).
In terms of finances, all Australians are feeling the pressures from increased electricity, grocery and petrol costs. The cost of higher education continues to add financial pressure beyond time of study, with approximately 1 in every 10 Gen X Australian still feeling the pressures of paying off their HECS/HELP debt.
The Silent Generation feel the least amount of tax related financial pressures, yet feel the most pressure from electricity, grocery and petrol costs in comparison with their younger counterparts. Interesting to see how little effect mortgage repayments are playing in terms of financial pressure despite ever increasing house prices (but with low interest rates).
Vegetarianism decreases with age, with Gen Z Australians five times more likely to be vegetarian than Silent Generation Australians (15% vs 3%). The financial pressures experienced by the older generations from electricity prices has impacted their environmental contribution, being one of the most active generations for reducing electricity use (76%), installing solar panels (40%). The majority of Australians across all generations are doing their part to lesson their impact on the environment.
The Silent Generation is more likely than Gen Z to see Australia as innovative (33% vs 22%), fair (50% vs 21%) and technological (43% vs 18%) and less likely to see us as old-fashioned (7% vs 27%) and narrow minded (14% vs 39%). These represent very conflicting views on the type of country Australia is.
Similarly, the Silent Generation is also more likely to agree that Australia is headed in the right direction (44% vs 31%) and that the government is doing a good job (46% vs 16%). The older generation has a much more positive outlook on the government and Australia as a whole compared to the other generations, with Gen Z having a fairly pessimistic outlook on where Australia is heading. Which is concerning.
In terms of the thoughts of social responsibility of brands, there are also clear differences among generations. Gen Z is far more likely to agree that brands can make a difference in social and environmental issues compared to the Silent Gen (83% v 56%). This is reinforced by the Silent Gen being far more likely to agree that brands should stay out of politics when compared to Gen Z (71% v 41%). The younger generation have put their faith in brands to be catalysts for change, whereas the Silent Gen remain skeptical of brands being involved in political and social issues.
The data shows that different groups have very different views in Australia, and is very much a reflection of the recent experiences of each. It demonstrates that while younger people are dissatisfied and demanding change, they are meeting resistance from the older generation, who are satisfied and cannot see the need for change.
This research suggests a government whose values and policies appeal to only one of these groups will meet staunch resistance from the other. Navigating this divide requires a vision that unites, rather than divides.
For more information on the Voice of Australia study, please contact Edentify.