Millennials Living Parents — The “Boomerang Kids”


The New York Times magazine has an article titled It’s Official: The Boomerang Kids Won’t Leave (June 20, 2014) that highlights an incredible aspect of Millennials:

1 in 5 people in their 20s and early 30s is currently living with his or her parents. … [A] generation ago … 1 in 10 young adults moved back home …

That”s a 2X increase in one generation.

What’s changed? Sure the credit market imploded causing a major recession a few years ago, but is that the root cause? I much prefer this narrative from the article:

Childhood is a fairly recent economic innovation. For most of recorded history, a vast majority of people began working by age 4, typically on a farm, and were full time by 10. According to James Marten, a historian at Marquette University and the editor of The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, it wasn’t until the 1830s, as the U.S. economy began to shift from subsistence agriculture to industry and markets, that life began to change slowly for little kids. Parents were getting richer, family sizes fell and, by the 1850s, school attendance started to become mandatory. By the end of the Civil War, much of American culture had accepted the notion that children under 13 should be protected from economic life, and child-labor laws started emerging around the turn of the century. As the country grew wealthier over the ensuing decades, childhood expanded along with it. Eventually, teenagers were no longer considered younger, less-competent adults but rather older children who should be nurtured and encouraged to explore.

Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, a psychologist at Clark University who coined the term “emerging adulthood,” sees boomerang kids as the continuation of this centuries-long trend.

Regardless of the cause of adult-aged kids living with their parents, it’s just one more substantial difference in a generation that grew up at the frontier of digital.

What are some of the implications?  Financial dependence.  Over-emphasizing job decisions (e.g. Do I really want to do X?  That’s not my passion.  What do I love to do, anyway?).  Having kids at a much later age.  Greater rigidity.  Dependence on adult-supervision.  Indecisiveness.

Those are mostly negative things in my mind.  Surely there are some positives.  Anyone want to suggest a few?

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