It seems to have taken the poorly reviewed
Sarah Jessica Parker/Matthew McConaughey film movie Failure to Launch
to trigger a global debate on the "adultescent" and the nefarious influence of said character. Articles like this one
from the Vancouver Sun
are sprouting up on Google News, full with outrage at the reluctance of people in my 20-35 demographic to leave their childhood homes.
Canadians in their 20s and early 30s are enjoying a life of leisure once limited to the rich or retired.
They drive nice cars, take frequent vacations, have their meals prepared for them, and never, ever do their own laundry.
Such luxury isn't afforded by top-notch educations or good jobs, although many of them have both. It's the upshot of living with their parents.
According to social scientists, grown men and women are increasingly becoming caught in a suspended state of "adultescence." While their professional accomplishments permit leaving home, their unwillingness to embrace independence keeps them from doing so.
"A lot of young people are telling me they could afford to live on their own, but they couldn't afford to live in the manner they're accustomed to," says Barbara Mitchell, author of The Boomerang Age: Transitions to Adulthood in Families.
"It's almost like the luxuries of yesterday have become the necessities of today's generation because we've gone more into a consumer-oriented culture of designer handbags and fancy sports cars."
Statistics Canada reports the number of twentysomethings living with their parents spiked from 27 per cent to 41 per cent over the last two decades. In the U.S., there has been a 50-per-cent increase in the number of 24- to 34-year-olds living at home since the 1970s, leading to a nearly 20-per-cent rise in shared housing costs incurred by parents.
"Historically, it's unprecedented," says Mitchell, a sociologist at Simon Fraser University. "[Previously], if kids did stay at home longer, it was more to help their aging parents, whereas now it's because they're getting the benefits of housing and economic support to save money."
Australia's The Mercury
is somewhat less upset in its take
on the phenomenon.
In Australia, adultescents are single people in their late 20s to early 30s, many also living at home, delaying traditional milestones such as marriage, children and taking out a mortgage.
There are 1.5 million adultescents in Australia and statistics show 50 per cent of people aged 18-30 are without a partner, mortgage or child.
Twenty years ago that figure was 10 per cent.
Instead of marriages and mortgages, they're investing in expensive holidays, fancy mobile phones, DVDs and cocktails.
I live on my own, but I have friends who live with their parents. Why do they live with their parents? It certainly isn't because they're lazy. Rather, it's because it's quite expensive for them to move out on their own. Consider that with what it costs me to rent a bachelor with shared facilities in Toronto, I could rent half of a house in Charlottetown.
I know full well that living on my own is expensive, especially in a costly city like Toronto, but it's something that's much better for me than any of the other alternatives (like, say, living on Prince Edward Island). Other people who aren't faced with the same life-and-death imperative for independence as me can be expected to make more economically rational choices like, say, living with their parents at home.
Speaking as a representative of my generation, it would be nice if the responsible people in my parents' generation would start wondering why we aren't moving out on our own in terms that don't involve blaming their children for their incompetence. It would be nice; it also isn't going to happen. Blaming other parties is, as always, a hot thing to do.