Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

The new generational conflict and divide

Recently, several newspapers reported that the Chinese population declined for the first time in 70 years (eg, Japan Times). Such a decline has become quite normal for many Western countries when disregarding the influx of immigrants and refugees.

A population decline may indeed cause a “demographic crisis” because the percentage of children will shrink rapidly and the percentage of elderly people will continue increasing. In many societies, young people are (indirectly) financing the pensions of old people (through taxation).

Another generational conflict happened in the UK: “Just over 70% of 18 to 24-year-olds who voted in the referendum backed Remain [] with just under 30% backing Leave. In contrast, only 40% of those aged 65 and over supported Remain, while 60% placed their cross against Leave.” (BBC). Note LO: all bold markings in quote by me.

Another generational conflict is slowly emerging about who will be paying for the climate change bill. In France, the Yellow Vests movement protests against the “rising fuel prices, high cost of living and claims that a disproportionate burden of the government’s tax reforms were falling on the working and middle classes” (Wiki).

Since 2009, the Netherlands has a (small) political party for elderly people, which is represented in both chambers of parliament. Their political agenda clearly benefits elderly people. By definition, it thus hurts younger people. The current Dutch discussion on who will be paying for the costs of climate change is slowly becoming another generational conflict.

In an expanding population, the political power is usually with the people below 50. The group of people above 50 is smaller in numbers and often lacked in wealth. This situation has existed for centuries.

The first reports about a new generational divide started in USA (eg, Forbes-2013McKinsey-2016) and then Western Europe (my 2017 blogFT-2018). It seems increasingly likely that future generations will be less powerful and poorer than previous generations. This paradigm shift will have major political consequences: more conservatism and more nationalism.

Arguably, the 45th U.S. President is another example of a generational conflict and divide: people above and below c. 45 clearly favoured different candidates (2016 stats). Clearly, conservatism and nationalism have been on the rise ever since.

However, and in accordance with Newton‘s 3rd Law of Motion: “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. This explains the recent reports of a brain drain in Turkey (eg, Ahval, NYT-2019). Something similar may be argued for post-Brexit UK and for Trump’s USA (Axios-2017Bloomberg-2018).

My generation (1965) by The Who
band, lyrics, video, Wiki-band, Wiki-song

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise


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