A weak economy and high debt levels are prompting more young
adults to return to the family nest, a new survey shows. Perhaps
surprisingly, most are happy with their living arrangements.
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
"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. …