Boomerang Kids/Generation: Crowded Nest Syndrome

Too much coddling?
Not enough challenge?
Changes to the economy?
Changes to the culture of employment?
Return to a culture of caring for aging parents?

Boomerang “kids” are, as the name suggests, coming home.

Majority of Middle Class Employment until 1980:

  • Full time work. (Steady paycheck & low social-security tax.)
  • Health benefits. (Reliable care.)
  • Retirement plan or pension in steady market. (Faith in the future.)

Middle Class Employment now:

  • Part time or Contract work. (Sporadic income & burden of social-security tax.)
  • Expensive or no benefits. (Unreliable care.)
  • 401K or self-generated investments in wildly unstable market. (Little faith in future.)

You know all of those statistics about the United States that show how far behind other nations we are in education, science & technology, even healthcare? Well here is one that might not surprise those of you who are parents:

The majority of our youth (18 – 35) are returning home, unable to enter the workforce in a way that allows them the opportunity to achieve financial independence. The youth are in school longer, delay or deny marriage, and take longer to grow wealth.

This point might surprise you however – that summary is for North Africa and Middle East countries like Jordan and Syria. There, they have termed it “Waithood,” and it sounds almost exactly like “Boomerang Kids,” despite the large differences in economy and culture. One difference you might have picked up on is “majority”; we in the U.S. have climbed to somewhere around 35% for the same age range (depending on which U.S. census and economic statistics reports you cite, and whether you include substantial parental financial support in addition to housing support).

If you remove the totality of wealth contained in the U.S. middle class (which seems to be happening all on its own right now), then the U.S. numbers would likely be in “the majority,” as they are in Africa and the Middle East.

The U.S. middle class is shrinking, and this is a terrible sign – it is the canary in the coal mine, heralding monumental changes in how we will relate to one another financially, socially – even privately. The fact that the U.S. shares a disturbing financial dynamic with Africa and the Middle East – failure to launch, as the movie titled it – should set this troubling trend into a larger context while also driving home the point that the U.S. is not what we once believed it to be: a place where you can pursue happiness.

It’s not that money = happiness all the time, but according to research in positive psychology, there is an income level below which money actually does equal happiness (somewhere between $50k and $70k, depending upon where you live). And guess what? The average annual income for 2010 college graduates is about $47.5k, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.