Generation XY: In Search of Free Room and Board

Jerry Clower, the late, great country comedian used to say:

Them kids you sent out in the wide world? Theyll be coming home (two beats) and they’s bringing more with’em!

He was a prophet.

The Christian Science Monitor has the story:

After graduating from Brown University in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature and completing a Fulbright scholarship in Brazil, Cassie Owens was left with a few dollars on her stipend and no job in sight. So, Ms. Owens returned home to her mother in Philadelphia.

“I moved back home pretty much for lack of money and prospects,” she says. Owens’s cousin, Evon Burton, who also returned home after graduating from Morehouse College in 2009, adds, “The choice is to go out and be in debt or to pursue your dreams and save up money at home, in a safe, stable environment.”

Owens and Burton are among the scores of so-called “boomerang kids,” young adults who move out of the family home for school or work and then return home. Unable to find well-paying work in a weak economy, escalating numbers of young adults – as many as 3 in 10 – are returning home to the family nest, resulting in the highest share of young adults living in multigenerational households since the 1950s, according to a Pew Research Center report released Thursday.

“The rise in the boomerang phenomenon illustrates the effect the recession and the weak economy are having on young adults,” says Kim Parker, a senior researcher at Pew and the author of the study. “Young adults were hit particularly hard in the job market and are having to delay reaching some basic financial milestones of adulthood because of this.”

In 1980, some 11 percent of young adults lived in multigenerational households, suggesting that a strong economy helped youngsters gain independence more quickly. Today, some 29 percent of 25- to 34-year olds either never moved out of their parents’ home or say they returned home in recent years because of the economy, according to the Pew report. Among 18- to 24-year olds, that figure is even higher – 53 percent of young adults in that age group live at home.

“These statistics show that the recession has exacerbated a trend that was already under way since the 1980s … living at home longer and boomeranging back more frequently,” says Barbara Ray, coauthor of “Not Quite Adults: Why 20-Somethings Are Choosing a Slower Path to Adulthood and Why It’s Good for Everyone.” The recession has hit this age group particularly hard, says Ms. Ray, and high unemployment among young adults, combined with growing college debt, means more youngsters are returning home.

Surprisingly, most “boomerang kids” don’t mind living with mom and dad. If ever there were a stigma about living with parents through one’s late twenties and thirties, the recession and, along with it, a practical dollars-and-cents outlook on life have all but erased that perception.

Of those living at home, some 78 percent say they’re upbeat about their living arrangements, according to the Pew study, and 24 percent say it’s been good for their relationships with their parents (48 percent say it hasn’t changed their relationship).

Owens says she’s happy to have an opportunity to look after her mother, who isn’t in good health.

“My parents love it and if they could keep me here forever they would,” says Erika Brunner, who moved back home to Lafayette, N.Y., in 2010 after completing her bachelor’s degree, working, and traveling in Europe for five months.

What are some of the effects felt by the Baby Boomers whose young adults move back home?

One-third of parents have to remortgage their home to support adult children.

When kids boomerang back home, it often comes at a big financial cost to parents.

The help parents give boomerang kids often affects their own retirement savings.

In a time when it’s getting harder and harder to save enough for retirement (health care doesn’t come cheap), the plans of many parents are taking another hit.

Two in five parents are giving their adult children financial help.

The costs associated with caring for kids don’t end at 18 these days. In fact, many parents spend as much as 10% of their income to support their adult children.

Due to greater acceptance, 85% of college grads plan to move home after graduation.

Once upon a time, an adult child moving back home may have gotten the neighbors talking, but these days, it’s pretty common.

The millennial generation may be less likely to rebel against the values of their parents.

While not every young adult wants to live at home or gets along swimmingly with mom and dad, a Pew study found that millennials aren’t as rebellious as their parents were back in their early twenties.

Many 20-somethings now put off marriage.

Expectations for adult milestones are different today than they were in the past. Few young adults these days plan to be able to get married, buy a house, or have kids before they’re 30.

Boomers are now supporting both older and younger generations.

Boomers are taking a hit in both directions. Not only are they supporting or caring for their parents, but many are also providing financial support or housing to their children as well.

Many young adults increasingly rely on advice from adults.

There is no doubt that these are uncertain times, and for many new grads that can mean looking to parents for advice on how to manage careers and finance.

Boomeranging kids may be more likely to care for aging parents.

Adult children who receive help from their parents to get on their feet may be more willing to repay that help by caring for their parents in old age. Relationships forged when children move in with parents may just help pave the way for adult children helping out their parents down the road.

The phenomenon of boomeranging is changing the young adult demographic not only in the U.S., but also around the world.

Kids aren’t just boomeranging here in the U.S. As the economy takes a downturn around the world, college grads are shacking up with mom and dad in higher numbers just about everywhere you look. In the UK they call them “Yuckies,” in Italy “Bamboccini”. Whatever they’re called, boomeranging kids are popping up everywhere, changing how a whole generation of young people are entering their adult and professional lives.

Boomerangers may have spawned a new life stage called emerging adulthood.

In years past, psychologists were doubtful about the legitimacy of the life phase we now call adolescence. Clearly it’s gained some acceptance since then, and many see the same happening for the newly coined phase called “emerging adulthood.”

Many boomerang kids feel like they’re stuck in limbo.

Once, graduation from high school or college may have been the rite of passage between the world of an adolescent and a full-fledged adult, but that’s no longer the case. Many boomerangers feel trapped in a liminal space that’s somewhere in between.

Boomeranging only further entrenches the disparities between income.

Moving back home with mom and dad may be more advantageous to those from middle- or upper-class families. Studies show that they’re able to give more to struggling kids in college and afterward.

While having the kids move back in and sponge off of Mom and Dad may bring familial warm fuzzies, it does nothing to strengthen the survival skills of the young adults in question, nor is it very beneficial for Mom and Dad’s bank balance.

Is America producing a generation of co-dependents?

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2 Responses to Generation XY: In Search of Free Room and Board

  1. Scotto says:

    Yea it’s weird how college is obviously a great thing, but now that every single person is expected to go to college and you can’t find a good job if you don’t, (well you usually can’t find a good job at first even if you do) it delays everybodys life a lot more then back in the day. Plus woman are totally equal to men now. No more the guy gets a job and the girl has kids and stays at home. Woman are also expected to go to college, graduate, start a career, then have kids. So they can’t even start to have kids till late 20′s early 30′s. Everythings just delayed it’s how it has to be now. I’m 29 i moved out at 25, and i was one of the first out of most of my friends to move out. I don’t even see how it’s possible to move out of your parents house before the age of 25 any more unless you get extremely lucky and find a high paying job right after college. Also concider young people are in no hurry to marry anymore like they used to be (probly do to the fact over half of our parents got divorced) so it’s a bit hard finding people to move in with.