Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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A new old age?: Exploring the values, attitudes and expectations of baby boomers and their implications for policy and practice in an ageing society

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posted on 2021-11-14, 11:39 authored by Glasgow, Kathy

As a large age cohort, baby boomers needs, attitudes and behaviour can have a substantial impact on society. Despite international predictions that older boomers will behave in very different ways to current generations of older people little scholarly research has to date been done to explore „kiwi boomers‟ attitudes to ageing or the underlying values that may predispose them to behave in a particular manner as older workers, consumers, voters and family members.  This study explores boomers views about their own ageing and considers how their expectations, attitudes and beliefs and underlying values may influence their behaviour as they age. Policy implications are then considered. Discourse analysis reveals prevailing paradigms and the degree of disparity or congruence with boomers‟ views is considered.  Eleven focus groups were held in urban and semi-rural settings around New Zealand with boomers born 1946 – 1965, to explore participants' views on ageing, their expected lifestyle in future years, what forms of assistance they expected to give or receive, and what attitudes and values they felt baby boomers typically had that may influence their behaviour in older age. Results are triangulated with existing data on boomers in New Zealand. Where possible comparisons are drawn with boomers in other countries and with older and younger generations in New Zealand.  Results indicate these boomers have a sense of common identity. Many articulated and appeared to have internalised common discourses about the boomer generation, although differences between older and younger, urban and provincial, socio-economic and ethnic groups were apparent. Most believed they would age differently to current generations of older people.  These boomers are interested in new forms of work, more flexible, creative lifestyles and more supportive living arrangements. They have a strong work ethic, but they value work/life balance, choice, freedom and autonomy in decision-making. They anticipate working longer, but on their own terms. They believe they should provide for their families, but the state has a responsibility to reduce inequities and support those in need. Like their parents they value self-reliance and independence, but also inter-dependence and inter-generational care responsibilities. There was a desire for more innovative intra-cohort care and support.  Despite areas of commonality, a key feature of the boomer cohort is their diversity and this presents a major challenge for policy and service development. Boomers accept their status as change agents. They anticipate drawing on previous experience to collectively influence policy. While it remains unclear on which issues they may converge, findings suggest the boomer cohort has the potential and inclination to advocate for social change. Processes of policy development will need to adapt to effectively work, with and not against this cohort.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Social Policy

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Social and Cultural Studies


Neale, Jenny; Davey, Judith