Selfish Boomers boom? New study shows parents will refuse to give up retirement dreams for their kids

Katelyn Catanzariti
AAP
2 Min Read
Boomers know their kids face bigger financial struggles than they did, but they won’t help out at the cost of their retirement lifestyle.
Boomers know their kids face bigger financial struggles than they did, but they won’t help out at the cost of their retirement lifestyle. Credit: carlo prearo/Adobe Stock

Boomers can see younger Australians are struggling financially and want to help where they can, but they are not willing to do so at the expense of their retirement lifestyle, new research shows.

Four in five Australians over 65 think their children are facing harder times than they experienced at the same age and a corresponding three in four believe passing on their wealth is important, according to new research by AMP.

But despite wanting to help, seven in ten surveyed said they were reluctant to compromise their retirement lifestyle to do so.

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“There’s a widely held perception that older people think younger people have it better than they did. You know, ‘kids these days’,” said the AMP’s Director of Retirement Ben Hillier.

He said the research is challenging that.

“But you have this bipolar situation where while they do believe they’re struggling and they do want to help them, they’re not comfortable to do so at the expense of their own lifestyles.”

About half of the older Australians surveyed said they would be happy to help out their children if they could still stay in the family home, Mr Hillier said.

That could come about by taking out a “reverse mortgage” or releasing equity in the home, he said.

“(Releasing equity) kills two birds with one stone,” he said.

“The retirees can stay in their home where they’re comfortable, where they’ve got the social support networks, their clubs, their church, their community, etc.

“(But they) release some of the equity (and) the kids get a leg up earlier.”

Houses in Brisbane.
Taking out a reverse mortgage could help boomers help their kids financially. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP

Ninety per cent of intergenerational wealth is passed on as an inheritance and — as a result of Australia’s ageing population — more often than not to the over 50s, he said.

“Not when you need it,” Mr Hillier explains.

“Ideally you want to help your kids when they’re raising their own small children, when they’re getting into the housing market ... not when they’re pre-retirees themselves.

“The intergenerational wealth transfer that’s happening is not that useful.”

But there are obstacles and disincentives to passing on wealth, even if older Australians were prepared to do so, he says.

If they were to sell the family home and downsize, older Australians will face expensive stamp duty and transaction costs, as well as the loss of lifestyle.

If they stay put but release equity from the home, they will also face disincentives - any equity that gets released counts against them in the aged pension means-testing; and there are also penalties when gifting large sums of money to their children.

Government legislation should be overhauled to allow a freer transfer of wealth from older Australians to younger generations, Mr Hillier said.

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