The XX Factor

Gen Y Wants To Grow Up, but the Recession Makes It Impossible

There’s another article in the New York Times today about Gen Y men and women who live with their parents. The Times publishes a version of this article about every two years: See ” For More People in 20s and 30s, Home Is Where the Parents Are ” (2003), ” ‘Boomerang’ Children: When the Nest Isn’t Empty Anymore ” (2005), and ” Emptying Nest Eggs, Not the Nests ” (2007). Even before the recession set in, more people in their 20s and 30s were living with their parents than in previous generations, and the numbers are continuing to rise. According to today’s article:

Since 2000, more people in the 25-to-39 age group have been living in their parents’ homes. By 2008, before the full effect of the recession was being felt, their ranks had increased by double-digit percentages since the decade began: by 32 percent nationwide, and by nearly 40 percent in Manhattan. … In 1980, 11 percent of 25-to-34-year-olds were living in multi-generational households. By 2008, 20 percent were.

If the trend keeps going in this direction, the Times speculates, “it could signal other social implications: modestly reviving the multi-generational family and further delaying marriage and childbearing.” I don’t think this is a bad thing. Obviously, the markers of adulthood that were established in the middle of the last century-maintaining your own home, getting married young-are no longer realistic for most people in their early 20s. Young men in particular would benefit from more fluid definitions of adulthood .

At least the fiction that Gen Y does not want to be self-sufficient has been shattered by the recession. In 2003, the subjects profiled in the Times did not seem to be bothered by living under mom’s roof in some sort of quasi-adolescent state. In the 2010 version of the article, the young people interviewed are desperate to leave home-it’s just that the recession has made it impossible.

Photograph of man by Photodisc/Getty Images.