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New Commutarianism
The Upsides of Living with Your Parents

 Young people can’t seem to catch a break. In case you missed it, the number of multigenerational households has more than doubled since 1980, according to a recent Pew survey—and that increase is largely due to young adults, ages 25 to 34, living at home. By the numbers:

The percentages look like this:

Pundits have reacted to these numbers by lamenting the recession. According to Pew, “By 2012, roughly one-in-four of these young adults (23.6%) lived in multi-generational households, up from 18.7% in 2007 and 11% in 1980.” Not only are alarming numbers of youngsters living at home; they’re reversing a historical trend. Oldsters have been far more likely to live with their grown children, at least until 2012, when “22.7% of adults ages 85 and older lived in a multi-generational household, just shy of the 23.6% of adults ages 25 to 34 in the same situation.” Facing sky-high tuition rates, a job market in the doldrums, and an economy in transition, millennials aren’t enjoying enough economic security to start their own households.

Though the recession has been unquestionably hard on millennials, we’d quibble with the conclusion that multigenerational living is in all cases a bad thing. A household that includes several generations does have its advantages. It can make eldercare a bit more manageable, can help young parents who would otherwise struggle to pay for childcare, and can strengthen family ties and help build up social capital. Young adults should have the economic freedom to strike out on their own, and we’re right to worry about the decline in economic opportunity that pushes people to live with their parents. But, as Megan McArdle has noted, a few years of living with one’s parents can make for fond memories, as they offer an opportunity for parents and their children to spend time together as adults.

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  • PKCasimir

    Why do I suspect that this was written by a millennial?
    The problem is not multi-generational households. The problem is millennials living like children requiring their parents to support them long after they should be supporting themselves.

    • Andrew Allison

      Well yes, they should be supporting themselves. Unfortunately, a combination of student debt, lack of jobs and self-indulgence has made it difficult to do so. Given the inter-generational wealth transfer represented by the decline in purchasing power of the dollar brought about by out-of-control deficit spending, doesn’t sponging off ones parents seems morally justified?

      • PKCasimir

        No! That’s part of the problem – the mentality that sponging off of anyone is morally acceptable.

        • Andrew Allison

          I agree in principle (notably WRT most welfare recipients and all subsidized ACA enrollees), but let’s face it, parents are programmed to take care of their kids. If the kids are un/under-employed, and can’t manage living expenses after student loan payments, Smartphone subscriptions, etc. what’s a parent gonna do? The issue, as you point out, is that they haven’t been taught self-reliance and responsibility. Who’s fault is that? Seems to me the parents may be getting their just deserts. The kids, of course, are doomed.

      • djaymick

        No, it’s the university system that’s the problem. How often do we hear the President talk about student debt? Very often. How often do we hear him talk about the cost of college? Just as often. How often do we hear the President talk about schools lowering their tuition? Never. It’s always the government that has to do more.
        So, here is what the wealth transfer you talk about really looks like. Liberal educators get higher salaries while cutting their class loads. Liberal professors donate their money to the Democrats. Democrats defend the university system and blame the wealthy for “not paying their fair share”. Until the government finds a way to reduce the burden on students, they will never have the ability to buy a house until that debt obligation is satisfied and/or manageable to take on a new liability. This is why the housing market has not (and will not) lifted us from this recession, unlike recessions in the past 20 years.

        • Andrew Allison

          I agree that post-secondary education is out of control (the solution is to stop sending so many kids to college — there aren’t enough jobs requiring a baccalaureate degree for the holders, and they are not equipped, by training or inclination, for the jobs that are available). I beg to differ with your last comment; the problem is a jobless recovery. The unemployment numbers are concealing a massive shift from full-time to part-time employment for those lucky enough to have a job, and not counting those who have given up looking for one. It’s a Potemkin recovery.

    • Boritz

      “The problem is millennials living like children requiring their parents to support them long after they should be supporting themselves.”

      The problem is also their insufferable know-it-all arrogance whether they have a job or not. Since they are usually educated beyond their means you can’t very well call them dumb-a** so smart-a** seems the appropriate label.

  • Breif2

    “A household that includes several generations does have its advantages.”

    Foremost among them: the ability, thanks to the different life-circumstances of the members, to man comments sections in shifts, 24 hours a day.

  • Andrew Allison

    This can’t be right. The government and MSM assure us that the economy has recovered [/snark]

  • Duperray

    Evaluating the level of life or whealth by $ income is biased because the cost of living is directly related to average family income. Despite one of the $ highest in the world, US level of life, with exceptions of highest classes, is low in terms of housing, education affordability, medical care, by comparison with other western countries. De-industrialization, blue collar workforce shrinkages are major negative trends. Of course it is cheaper to live with parents when they are poor, but immigrants a century ago were far poorer but they lived by their own, giving them the utmost courage to be bullish at work. Milleniums are now too lazy, they want to enjoy wealth before having earned it,…This essentially results from media, movies propaganda barring reality.

  • Henry Bowman

    Gosh! It turns out this was Obama’s plan all along!

    PS: Who is the target audience here? Millenials living with their parents? They already think it sucks to not have to pay rent, water, internet, or food. GOSH! So difficult.

  • SClanding

    Oh…look it is “fun – unemployment”…..

    You know like the cancelled insurance policies and jobs lost because Obamacare were wonderful because it allowed these unemployed people to suddenly become Picasso and “start their own businesses” without money, idea or talent.

    Sure you can’t afford food, car, housing and a life as a result of progressives asinine ideas but there is always a silver lining…you can sleep in your parents basement until you have exhausted their income also…then the Democrats will have a big ‘crisis’ which sets them up for another raid on the National Treasury for their friends and cronies.


  • Gustave Eugene

    Wait until Obama’s IRS determines it to be a taxable event. Gift taxes or some sort of imputed income will be derived and charged for anyone over 21 living with their parents. It will progressive using the rate the parents pay.

  • Tom Servo

    I’m one of your parents.

    Stay out of my house, slacker.

  • ShadrachSmith

    I go all Huey Long on this topic: every man a king and every house his castle. Most of us would rather their children live by that set of goals: mine do. I am very proud of the fact that mine do.

    OTOH, to those with live-ins, you did raise the little cherubs to be the weenies they are today, and you can’t throw them out 🙂

  • Frances

    Back in the day, our offsprings were told – and this early on – that they were 1) to graduate from high school; 2) to go on to post-secondary education; and 3) to help pay for same. Somewhere along the line – I think it was when said offsprings each in turn expressed a desire for a career on stage – we added the next requirement: 4) you will have to – at the end of said training – be able to support yourself. Drama was out, as noone was that passionate, though courses were taken in that area. In the end, everyone graduated with marketable skills.

    They each stayed with us after graduation. We were glad to help them: the only criterion was that they were saving for the future and paying off any debt. They all found decent jobs, have moved out, and have done us proud.

  • Frances

    Forgot to add that – during this time there were elderly relatives we were responsible for. Not living with us, but still our responsibility. The offsprings were really great picking up the burden. To this day, they talk of the wonderful memories they have of these relatives; I know our kids, in accompanying our seniors on their final journey, gave great joy to the seniors.

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