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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Feeling the pinch?

David Willetts, the shadow secretary for education and skills, not content with the preparations for a general election, has published a new book The Pinch: How the baby boomers took their children’s future – and why they should give it back (Atlantic Books, £18.99). Scanning the bibliography suggests David must read pretty quickly.

The theory is elegant. The baby boomers of 1945 to 1965 were a larger than normal generation.
>> They trotted off to school, creating higher education costs from the 1950s to 1970s, resulting in higher levels of taxation in those days, paid for by their parents’ generation.
>> They then turned to work from the 1980s to the current time, expanding the size of the workforce, which now had fewer children to pay for and benefited from a fall in taxation during their working lifetime.
>> Finally, they will be retired in the 2020s, 2030s and 2040s, when social costs for paying for pensions and the like will mushroom, resulting in higher taxes to be paid by their children.

Easy solutions are not provided, but there is a general appeal to be less selfish, not to spend it all on ourselves and to try to help the next generation out in responsible ways, either individually or through general good works.