What Is the Boomerang Generation?

Did Your Kid Move Back In? You're Not Alone

mother and daughter having coffee in kitchen
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Has one of your young adults returned home after leaving or never even left? They are part of what is called the 'boomerang generation,' and they are not alone.

What Is the Boomerang Generation?

The term 'boomerang generation' is a shorthand way to describe the phenomenon of grown children returning to their childhood homes. The last two major financial recessions have increased the number of 20-somethings who have returned - or "boomeranged" - back to the nest.

There are many reasons why this becomes necessary. The biggest cause in this latest generation was a stagnant economy that caused problems in the job market, along with the high cost of living in most major cities.

The amount of time they spend at home may be as short-lived as the job-searching summer after graduation or it may last a year or more. 

Who Are Boomerang Young Adults?

The boomerang generation is a term coined by the press to describe (sometimes disparagingly) the children of the baby boom.

Their parents and grandparents benefited from a postwar boom and a G.I. Bill that brought them university educations without the five-figure debt loads that have become the 21st-century norm.

By contrast, the boomerang generation emerged from college with crushing student debt, only to face a stagnant job market wracked by not one, but two recessions.

The Reality of the Boomerang Generation

Some of the boomerang horror stories we have heard made it sound like everyone was returning to the family nest.

The reality is not that drastic, though it is a significant number.

A 2013 Pew study found that  36% of young adults, ages 18 to 34, had returned to the family fold.

There is a distinct - and not unexpected - difference between the younger and the older ends of the spectrum.

Of those young adults who did return home:

  • 56% were 18-24 years old
  • 16% were 25 and older

Furthermore, nearly half (48%) of those boomerang kids said they paid rent to their parents and 89% said they contributed to expenses.

How to Encourage Your Boomerang Kid

Life can be tough at times, we all know that, but it is no reason to give up hope.

If you are one of the many American parents who has a boomerang kid living in your house, there are a few things you can do to help them feel better and, hopefully, get back on their feet.

Be Encouraging

The local job market may be tough and the student loan bills may seem staggering though young adults should not let this get them down. Encourage them to continue looking for work or a better job and remind them that things do get better with time.

Broadening their search to other locations or outside of their field of interest may hold some answers. The 'dream job' is not always there when you need it, but other jobs may lead to something great!

Be Firm

Now is a good time to set boundaries, both financially and in regards to the reality of being a responsible adult.

Come to an agreement with your kids about living expenses while they are at home and stick to it.

Also, be sure that they know you expect them to do more than sit on the sofa playing video games. Finding a job should be a full-time job for the unemployed.

Be Understanding

Adults often have a hard time remembering what it was like to be young and just starting out. Remember your days in that tiny studio apartment, working for peanuts at a job you hated.

Keep in mind that times have changed and certain aspects of young adult life may not be the same as when you were a 20-something.

Set Goals and Revisit Them

Sit down regularly with your boomerang kids and discuss their goals for moving out or any new prospects they may have.

You don't have to be strict about leaving the house by a certain date, just make sure they remember it is their ultimate goal (no one wants to live at home forever, right?).

Be their sounding board for new ideas or prospects and help them work out the pros and cons. Often, talking it out will help them see it things a little more clearly. Your experience and advice may be just the thing they need right now.