More adult millennials are moving home to save money, and its making them more depressed, new research reveals.
And it’s making their parents pretty miserable too, according to other recent research.
A full third of young adults in the US live with their parents. In fact, millennial men and women are more likely to live with mom and dad than in any other living arrangement.
It might be a good way to save money for those still suffering the aftershocks of the Great Recession – but it can be seriously damaging to mental health, a new study conducted by German scientists found.
Like John C Reilly’s (left) and Will Ferrell’s (right) characters in the film Stepbrothers, about a third of American Millennials live with their parents – and it may be making the whole household depressed, studies suggest
In past generations, the archetype of the young adult living at home was someone who simply never left (think: Matthew McConaughey in Failure to Launch, Will Ferrell and John C Reilly in Step Brothers, or Tony Hale as Buster Bluth in Arrested Development).
In pop culture, these characters were portrayed as slackers, dead beats, or simply spoiled adult children who never really embraced the ‘adult’ part.
The story arc is a little more complicated for many millennials who have increasingly found themselves living back at home after moving out years before.
The so-called Great Recession that followed the 2008 rupture of the housing bubble has become a defining moment for the millennial generation.
More millennials are more educated than previous generations – just as their parents had hoped – but they flooded the market.
Suddenly, there were fewer well-paid jobs and more overqualified candidates.
Financial independence – let alone, success – became harder to come by, and young adults brought up on diet rich in opportunity, higher education and encouragement to achieve but lacking in menial labor were left stunned and stunted.
Economically speaking, the potential benefits of moving back in with one’s parents are hard to ignore.
According to the US Census Bureau, median monthly rent is $1,012. That means that if you moved back in with your parents for two years and just kept that cash for yourself, you could save up $24,000.
But it might come at a serious cost to your mental health, according to the new research from the Max Planck Institute.
‘We know a lot about the reasons why young adults boomerang back to their parents’ homes, but there’s almost no research on how it affects their mental health,’ said study author Dr Jennifer Caputo.
Though she is based in Germany, Dr Caputo was particularly interested in this phenomenon in American households.
She looked at data on 20,000 young adults. Data have been collected about this cohort since they were in 7th to 12th grade, starting in the mid-1990s, including questions about their living arrangements between 2000 to 2008.
Members of the group – now aged 24-30 – often wound up back at home.
This was especially true for young men and minority people, who were more likely to live with one or more of their parents than were white or female members of the cohort.
Those who lived on their own were more likely to have the hallmarks of being fully-fledged adults. They were more likely to have their finances in order, have a job and to be married.
People who had moved back in with their parents were most likely to be moving backward in other ways, too.
Economic and social independence are hallmarks of a successful transition to adulthood, and residential independence is highly valued. Not achieving these goals might create feelings of failure
Dr Jennifer Caputo, Max Planck sociologist and study author
Often, they had experienced personal or professional setbacks, like break-ups or layoffs.
Moving home may have seemed, for these young adults, like a way to inject some stability and support into their lives, but the new study showed that they just became more likely to sink into depression.
‘Economic and social independence are hallmarks of a successful transition to adulthood, and residential independence is highly valued,’ Dr Caputo said.
‘Not achieving these goals might create feelings of failure.’
And its not just the (adult) children who suffer. When they return to the nest, their parents tend to fall into depressions too.
Earlier this year, researchers in the UK – where about a quarter of young adults live at home – found that when adult children lived with their parents for their own benefits (rather than to take care of aging family members), the parents’ quality of life started to decline.
Measured on quality of life scale that ranged from 12 to 48, parents whose kids came back to roost rated their quality of live 0.8 points lower once they regained a roommate, according to the London School of Economics research.
That might not sound like much, but its about equivalent to the effects of age-related disabilities that make basic functions like dressing themselves or walking around harder.
So an adult child’s return can really upset the balance of things, and make everyone miserable.
But Dr Caputo suspects it doesn’t have to be that way.
‘While I can’t test this directly with my data, based on interview studies and ruling out other explanations, I think a strong possibility is that they are feeling disappointed in themselves along with some amount of social stigma,’ she told Daily Mail Online in emailed comments.
‘Assuming this is true, I think spreading awareness that moving back in with parents at some period in young adulthood is now actually VERY common, and even can be a smart decision to make since it does often help young people to get their footing financially, would help reduce depression associated with boomeranging and reduce social stigma.’
As for parents, they might be a bit relieved if their children weren’t going through hardships, but they’d still rather have their independence back, according to the previous study on their attitudes.