In Recent Years, the Busybody Parent Has Become a Fixture of Campus Life

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According to many accounts, the boomerang binge has just begun. Some claim that the rising rate of divorce and breakdown in cohabitation is responsible for the growth of this trend. Other observers argue that parents today are far more protective than in the past, and therefore inadvertently encourage their adult children's dependency. Alexandra Robbins, co-author of Quarterlife Crisis: How To Get Your Head Round Life in Your Twenties, believes that after losing the structure of university life, young adults feel 'sheltered and anchored' when they return home.

However, the most common explanation for the rise of the boomerang generation is an economic one. It is often suggested that many young adults simply cannot afford to live on their own, or that they find it difficult to pursue the good life.

But is economic insecurity responsible for the emergence of this remarkable international phenomenon? In Japan, where this trend is most developed, the affluence of single stay-at-home 20- to 34-year-olds is frequently commented upon. It is widely recognised that the recent boom in the sales of luxury goods has been fuelled by the conspicuous consumption of the parasite singles, many of whom live at home. In 2000, the Washington Post reported on 26-year-old Miki Takasu, who drives a BMW and carries a $2,800 Chanel handbag, which she alternates with her Gucci. And of course she lives at home with her parents (9).

In the USA, business people actively target the boomerang market, since these consumers are deemed to have a very high discretionary income. 'The new generation of post-collegiate nesters unencumbered by room-and-board payments, is financially savvy, ready to spend, and a growing consumer force', notes one observer (10). Despite the high price of property, British young adults are financially better off than previous generations. Economic insecurity may help explain why some grown- up children live at home, but it does little to illuminate the process...
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