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Boomerang Generation is one of several terms applied to the current generation of young adults in Western culture. They are so named for the frequency with which they choose to cohabitate with their parents after a brief period of living alone - thus boomeranging back to their place of origin. This cohabitation can take many forms, ranging from situations that mirror the high dependency of pre-adulthood to highly independent, separate-household arrangements.
The term can be used to indicate only those members of this age-set that actually do return home, not the whole generation. In as much as home-leaving practices differ by economic class, the term is most meaningfully applied to members of the middle class.
Introduction[edit | edit source]
The parental expectation of having an "empty nest", traditional in the United States and some other industrialized cultures, is increasingly giving way to the reality of a "cluttered nest" or "crowded nest". The latter term was popularized by Kathleen Shaputis's 2004 book The Crowded Nest Syndrome : Surviving the Return of Adult Children, which takes a critical view of the trend.
University of Western Ontario professor Roderic Beaujot discusses the phenomenon of delayed home-leaving at length. He cites Canadian census statistics showing that, in 1981, 27.5% of Canadians aged 20–29 lived with their parents; in 2001, the figure had grown to 41%. In United States the proportion of adults ages 2
to 34 living with their parents has increased from 9% in 1960 to almost 17% in 2000. However, US census data also suggests that the rate at which adult children have been living with parents has been steady since 1981.)
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The 18th through 21st birthdays of this generation coincide with the economic downturn starting with the collapse of the stock market bubble in 2000. This led to rising unemployment until 2004, the same time this generation was entering the workforce after high school or college graduation. Additionally, in the new economy, where globalisation-induced phenomena like outsourcing have eliminated many jobs, real wages have fallen over the last twenty years, and a college degree no longer ensures job stability, this is the easiest, if not only, way for these young adults to maintain the middle class lifestyle they anticipated. Additionally, with the recent economic crisis hitting much of the world, many young people were either laid off or could no longer afford to live on their own. Moving back home allows them the option of unpaid internships and additional schooling without the burden of paying rent at market rates (or paying rent at all).
This generation differs from previous ones in that many members expect to remain with their parents for some years while maintaining their own social and professional lives. Because many of their friends also live at home, the stigma of living with parents is reduced; nonetheless, eventual home-leaving remains a priority for most in the Boomerang Generation.
Trend[edit | edit source]
The phenomenon of boomeranging / delayed home-leaving has generated considerable inquiry and debate, including academic studies at reputable universities, full-length books, articles in national newspapers, and major motion pictures (cf. "See Also" and "References" below for examples of each).
Support[edit | edit source]
The primary justification for this phenomenon, as articulated in Kimberly Palmer's 2007 U.S. News & World Report article "The New Parent Trap: More Boomers Help Adult Kids out Financially", is economic. Where the young person and his/her parents can tolerate the arrangement, it provides tremendous financial relief to the young person. It may also provide non-negligible income to the parents, though in many cultures, the young person retains all or nearly all of this income for disposable income purchases.
Though inter-generational cohabitation is terra incognita for many in modern industrialized Western societies and therefore challenging, those who attempt it can benefit from the experience. The arrangement tends to force all involved to communicate and negotiate in ways they did not when the children were pre-adults. In the best case, this can lead to healthy adult relationships between parents and children.
This can benefit parents when they reach old age. In societies where it is common for children to live with their parents into adulthood, such as Asian, and Hispanic cultures, children more frequently take care of aging parents, rather than devolving the responsibility on a third party, such as a nursing home. Whether the Boomerang Generation will follow suit remains to be seen, as the older Baby Boom generation ages.
Opposition[edit | edit source]
Critics of the practice of boomeranging, such as Shaputis, worry about the negative effect this trend has on the financial and social independence of the children.
Young adults that are able to return home after an unsuccessful job hunt often become more passive in their search for employment if they continue to be financially supported by their parents. A lack of motivation can delay the start to a young adult's career and cause him/her to miss months or years of job earnings and experience.
Those that return home from the unrestrictive nature of college dorm life may also have difficulty readjusting to their parents' domestic expectations. Where living space is shared, gatherings with friends can be limited in frequency or scope. Dating is similarly constrained, and can also be impaired by the stigma of the young adult's perceived inability to function independently of his/her parents.
Many parents feel that, although expelling their children from the home may result in a strained relationship, such an expulsion effectively forces the young adults to survive on their own, spurring their maturity and encouraging them to begin families of their own.
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Shaputis, Kathleen. The Crowded Nest Syndrome: Surviving the Return of Adult Children. Clutter Fairy Publishing, 2004. Print. ISBN 978-0972672702
- Delayed Life Transitions: Trends and Implications accessed on June 9, 2007
- Fields J. and L.M. Casper, America's families and living arrangements, 2000, US Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, as cited in Nijole Benokratis, Marriages and Families, 6th edition, Pearson, 2008, p.371
- Families and Living Arrangements, table AD-1 accessed on June 9, 2007
- Jobs moving overseas accessed on January 29, 2007
- U.S. underestimates jobs lost to outsourcing, labor experts assert from Cornell News accessed on January 29, 2007
- Job outsourcing 'serious problem' from the Washington Times accessed on January 29, 2007
- Bureau of Labor Statistics grossly underestimates U.S. jobs lost to outsourcing from Cornell News accessed on January 29, 2007
- Amid Plenty, the Wage Gap Widens from the Milken Institute accessed on January 29, 2007
- When It Comes to Pay, It Helps to Be the One Signing the Checks from the New York Times accessed on January 29, 2007
- Is Youth Worse Off Than Two Decades Ago? from the Parliament of Australia accessed on January 29, 2007
- Is Job Stability in the US Falling? Reconciling Trends in the Current Population Survey and Panel Study of Income Dynamics from the Social Science Research Network accessed on January 29, 2007
- Has job stability declined? Evidence from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics from the American Journal of Economics and Sociology accessed on January 29, 2007
- Palmer, Kimberly. "The New Parent Trap: More Boomers Help Adult Kids out Financially." U.S. News & World Report 12 Dec 2007 Web.28 Jun 2009. <http://www.usnews.com/articles/business/your-money/2007/12/12/the-new-parent-trap.html?PageNr=1>.
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