Generations of reports that never save us from our future

The Intergenerational Report series has been citing the same problems for years. Yet the fixes on productivity and participation proposed by both sides of politics only serve their own political needs.

Renowned Danish physicist Neils Bohr once remarked that “prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future”. And so it is with the Intergenerational Report released by Joe Hockey last week, the latest of four reports first published in 2002.

Each report since 2002 projects that over the next 40 years we face inevitable crisis with an increasingly ageing population sucking up scarce publicly funded health and welfare resources in a shrinking taxpayer base. This is because our population will increase, but with a higher proportion of older people; economic growth per person will slow as the proportion of the population of traditional working age falls; and substantial fiscal pressures will emerge due to projected increases in spending, particularly in the areas of health, age pensions and aged care.

To avoid this catastrophe each report recommends governments take action to boost population, economic participation and productivity (the three Ps).

When comparing the predictions in all four reports the efforts of governments since 2002 seem to have had mixed results.

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