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Economic stagnation is causing millennials to live at home longer

Burdened by student debt, expensive housing, and higher levels of household poverty, millennials are choosing to move in with their parents in greater numbers. As a result of the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent Great Recession, millennials struggled to obtain higher education and purchase property, among other things. Since then, the prices of goods and services have risen, while wages have remained mostly stagnant. According to CNBC, “15 percent of 25-to 35-year-old millennials were living in their parents’ home in 2016,” a much larger number compared to older generations at the same age.

The damage caused by the U.S. housing bubble made millennials more likely to rent rather than purchase a new house.

Today, housing in urban areas is too expensive for younger people already laden with debt.

CNBC reported that “for a generation of young adults…there are also the barriers of rapidly rising urban housing costs and staggering loan debt [which] has caused a 35 percent drop in millennial homeownership, according to a New York Fed study.”

Perhaps the greatest reason that  millennials are living with their parents is that most of them are not making enough money to purchase houses or rent their own apartments.

According to CNBC, Carolina Wong, a graduate from Florida State University in 2006,  had intended to use her skills as a graphic designer in advertising.

However, after two years, she ended up in a low-paying marketing job. “Wong hit a breaking point…She decided to move home, live with her parents, and reset,” the CNBC article mentioned.

Needless to say, Wong could not afford housing with her marketing job.

Still owing payments on her student loans, she decided to accept assistance from her parents and move back home.

Wong’s situation is not uncommon; there are many others of her generational cohort who have had similar experiences.  

Society is regarding this phenomenon as a result of the stagnant economy rather than the result of millennials’ own shortcomings. Dr. Nancy Worth, a researcher at the University of Waterloo, compiled a 2016 study of millennials living at home in the Toronto area.

She found that the stereotype of the lazy millennial is not as prevalent in the media and common discussion as it was ten years ago. Instead, Worth says that “now, you’re hearing how smart, strategic, and lucky young people are for staying at home.”

In previous generations, it was common for women to get married in their early 20s. However, current millennials are marrying later in life or less frequently. The average age for women to get married has increased into their late 20s.

According to The Boston Globe, “Only about a third of [millennials] have tied the knot, according to the Pew Research Center. That compares with 44 percent of Generation Xers and over half of boomers (when they were young).”

Besides marrying later and living at home for longer, millennials are less likely to have sex, drink, date or get a driver’s license compared to earlier generations.

Judging by the metrics usually used to determine adulthood, millennials are developing into independent adults at a much slower rate. Baruch College students have different opinions about this issue. According to freshman Ken Zhang, “Living at home is ideal for me. It is much cheaper than living in the dorms, and the travel time is similar.”

Zhang plans to find his own place after he graduates, but has a strong family relationship and would not mind living at home for longer. In contrast with Zhang, senior Michael Schulz has lived in the dorms his entire time at Baruch.

“I have nothing against living at home. It would just be a very long commute for me [from Long Island]. Also, I wanted to get at least a little bit of the traditional college experience by living away from home for some time,” Schulz said.

Although Schulz has a very strong relationship with his family, he would not want to move back home after he graduates unless he was financially unstable.

Since he plans to work in the theater industry, he says it would be more convenient to live in New York City where he has better access to work opportunities.

Schulz is reluctant to move back home because he believes that he would create a financial burden on his family by doing so. Instead, he wants to share his success with them and he hopes to become an entertainment production manager.

October 23, 2017

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