Boomerang Generation/Moving Back Home (Course Writing Assignment) The NY Times, in It’s Official: The Boomerang Kids Won’t Leave, explores the trend of increasing numbers of young people continuing to live with their parents after college. The article notes that one in five people in their 20s and early 30s currently live with parents, and 60 percent of all young adults receive financial support from parents. In the prior generation, only one in 10 young adults moved back home and few received financial support.
The common explanation for the change is that young people had the misfortune of growing up during several unfortunate and overlapping economic trends. Today, almost 45 percent of 25-year-olds have outstanding loans, with an average debt above $20,000, and more than half of recent college graduates are unemployed or underemployed, causing them to make substandard wages in jobs that don’t require a college degree. According to Lisa B. Kahn, a Yale University economist, the negative impact of graduating in a recession never fully disappears.
Even 20 years later, people who graduated during the 1980s recession were making substantially less income than people who graduated a few years afterward, when the economy was booming. According to the NY Times, the latest recession only amplified a trend that had been growing stealthily for more than 30 years. Since 1980, the U. S. economy has been destabilized by a series of systemic changes that have affected all workers but particularly those just embarking on their careers.
The result is that over the past 30 years, the onset of sustainable economic independence has been steadily receding. These boomerang kids are not a temporary phenomenon. They appear to be part of a new and permanent life stage. More than that, they represent a much larger anxiety-provoking but also potentially thrilling economic evolution that is affecting all of us. It’s so new, in fact, that most boomerang kids and their parents are still struggling to make sense of it. Is living with your parents a sign, as it once was, of failure?
Or is it a practical, long-term financial move? According to Rand Spero in 1980, 1 in 10 post-graduates moved back home; now, 4 in 10 move back after graduation. A recent survey of college seniors found that 85% expect to move back home after graduation. For some parents, this move is initially welcome. Many miss their kids, and long to resume the closeness they previously had. For others, perhaps the majority, it’s a real burden on a lifestyle they developed when their adult kids were out on their own. In either case, parents now need to make a big adjustment.
And, so do their kids, who had finally left home and relished in their independence and autonomy. Often for these children and their parents, moving back home for an extended period of time can be seen as a setback. For example At first when Bobby planned to move home after college until he found a job and could support himself, the entire family was thrilled to be able to spend time together again. It was assumed that since Bobby had been a hardworking, successful student, landing a “good job” would happen once he put in some effort.
Three years later, Bobby still lives at home, and his situation seems far from ideal. His parents, who initially loved the idea of being able to help their son during his brief transitional time, now have mixed feeling about his extended stay. After all, they have their own retirement concerns, and they need to save more money to help pay for their old age. And, they shelled out quite a bit for Bobby’s college education, and have since assumed new debt. In the past when children went off to college or left home, parents needed to adjust to living as “empty nesters.
The expectation was that this was the way life would continue. But in a major economic and social shift, a significant number of these parents must adapt to the fact that adult children are returning home without a job and means of income—they have no other place to go. The economy may be inching back from the worst downturn in decades, but 20-somethings still face a daunting road to employment and financial independence. They moved back home hoping to wait out the recession, until the job market turned around.