Are baby boomers healthier than generation X? A profile of australia's working generations using national health survey data

Rhiannon Pilkington, Anne W. Taylor, Graeme Hugo, Gary Wittert

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Background: To determine differences in sociodemographic and health related characteristics of Australian Baby Boomers and Generation X at the same relative age. Methods: The 1989/90 National Health Survey (NHS) for Boomers (1946-1965) and the 2007/08 NHS for Generation Xers (1966-1980) was used to compare the cohorts at the same age of 25-44 years. Generational differences for males and females in education, employment, smoking, physical activity, Body Mass Index (BMI), self-rated health, and diabetes were determined using Z tests. Prevalence estimates and p-values are reported. Logistic regression models examining overweight/obesity (BMI≥25) and diabetes prevalence as the dependent variables, with generation as the independent variable were adjusted for sex, age, education, physical activity, smoking and BMI(diabetes model only). Adjusted odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals are reported. Results: At the same age, tertiary educational attainment was higher among Generation X males (27.6% vs. 15.2% p<0.001) and females (30.0% vs. 10.6% p<0.001). Boomer females had a higher rate of unemployment (5.6% vs. 2.5% p<0.001). Boomer males and females had a higher prevalence of "excellent" self-reported health (35.9% vs. 21.8% p<0.001; 36.3% vs. 25.1% p<0.001) and smoking (36.3% vs. 30.4% p<0.001; 28.3% vs. 22.3% p<0.001). Generation X males (18.3% vs. 9.4% p<0.001) and females (12.7% vs. 10.4% p = 0.015) demonstrated a higher prevalence of obesity (BMI >30). There were no differences in physical activity. Modelling indicated that Generation X were more likely than Boomers to be overweight/ obese (OR:2.09, 1.77-2.46) and have diabetes (OR:1.79, 1.47-2.18). Conclusion: Self-rated health has deteriorated while obesity and diabetes prevalence has increased. This may impact workforce participation and health care utilization in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere93087
JournalPloS one
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 26 Mar 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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