What is the best year to have been born?
29 October 2013
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I have always been fascinated with the progression of time, the concept of generational traits and how historical factors affected the formations of different epochs in society and culture.
A period that is of particular interest is the best time to have been born for cultural, financial and societal reasons. The answer to this question has been debated heavily, with the final decision widely accepted as being 1948, the baby boomer generation. There’s a myriad of reasons why this generation have been given the mantle of potentially have the luckiest and best lives, of which I will explore in this post.
Their first steps on the property ladder coincided with the 1970s housing boom as home ownership rocketed. The price of an average house in 1948 was £1,751 in, a far cry from the £160,159 average today.
This meant that the houses went exponentially up in price, and due to the cost, young people and couples were able to actually buy houses, something that is very different today. In today's economy it is increasingly difficult to imagine young people being able to afford to own their own home, while for the generation of 1948 it was almost a given, with the flourishing economy and re ignition of British industry and business.
Government and Society
The family allowance introduced in 1945 meant that disadvantaged families could now afford food and clothing.
1948 saw the founding of the National Health Service, meaning that this was the first generation to have care from birth to old age. Within a year the first comprehensive school had opened, and taxpayer funded university was now an option.
The birth of this generation also of course missed out on the hardships of World War 2, and were also fortunate enough to avoid National Service altogether, due to its abolition in 1960, something their previous generations were forced to endure.
1948 was also the year of the London Olympics in London (pictured above).
Not only did the 1948 generation have one of the most optimistic childhoods and an an explosion of cultural change, they could also look forward to comfortable retirement.
This generation on the most part received a hugely beneficial final salary scheme pension. The final salary scheme was a government initiative that, in laymans terms, Final salary schemes are based on how much you're paid when you finally retire. Final pension schemes also allow you to have a regular income for the rest of your life that retains a lot of your original working wage.
These kinds of pensions have all but disappeared today, as with people living longer and a tumultuous worldwide economy, businesses are no longer prepared to offer them. Currently the pension provision is set to force people to work longer for less reward.
The wealth gap between the generations who received final salary pensions and the generations afterwards who didn’t received this desirable perk is massive. The 1948 generation typically have six times more retirement savings than those who were forced to accept non final-salary pension schemes.
Research by Prudential Insurance identifies 2008 as the last year the majority (52%) could retire at 60 on a final salary pension. This means that today that there is much more of a grey area when talking about pensions, and issues with small and medium business owners which (as you know) is something I am passionate about solving!