This week the Office For National Statistics released (ONS) found that roughly one in four or 3.4 million so called ‘boomerang children’, those aged between 20 to 34, are living at home with their parents. This is a stark increase of 25 % from 1996. It is very worrying news as it paints a picture of young adults who seem trapped at home. Many ideas have come forth as a reason for this but dramatic increase including those blaming the adults themselves. But who or what really is to blame for this generation of ‘boomerang children’?
The most obvious factor in the dramatic rise is the economic crisis, which has resulted in high unemployment, crippling house prices as well increasingly low wages. If people cannot get jobs then they cannot afford to rent a house or pay a mortgage. House prices have actually been steadily increasing during the crises and banks have made it harder to get a mortgage requiring a 20% or more down payment on houses which cost on average £190,000 or over.
Saving £40,000 while paying high rental costs is not an easy task especially when wages are falling and rents are increasing. The housing Charity Shelter’s Chief said that “Sadly, these figures won’t be a surprise to the thousands of hard-working young people still living in their childhood bedroom. Our research has shown that close to half of parents believe their children will never be able to afford a stable home of their own, despite working hard and saving.” This has obviously played a major factor in the rise of the ‘boomerang children’.
Some people have blamed the high number of graduates saying that the market has become saturated. This is certainly a major factor. With so many new graduates on the market and many of them due to people just going to university because they have nothing else to do during the economic crisis; employers have a large pool of talent to pick from. Is the government’s drive to get so many people into university together with the amount of Mickey Mouse degrees a major factor in the number of ‘boomerang children’. If you have so much competition, then employers do not have to offer much in terms of pay or benefits; people are just happy to get a job.
Another idea, which personally I think plays a huge factor in the rise of the boomerang generation is the fact that the so called ‘baby boomers’ are hanging onto their jobs and not making space for the next generation. Despite many ‘baby boomer’ parents complaining that their children will not leave home it is in fact they who are part of the problem. If they were willing to leave the job that they had then there would be room for their children to get better jobs. The highly paid jobs are mostly taken up by older people, not necessarily ‘baby boomers’ but many of the people complaining about their children returning home. If they want to rectify the situation then the old need to give way for the new. Many older people are clinging onto their jobs for dear life. How can younger people be expected to make enough money to pay a mortgage if they cannot move up the corporate ladder? This may be a somewhat controversial view but it is a very valid idea and it cannot be denied that the older generations are reluctant to give up their jobs.
It has also been, what I would say unfairly suggested that as more men are back living at home with their parents than women, because they are ‘mummy’s boys’. The fact that one in five women compared with one in three men are back living with their parents is actually more likely down to other factors. The main reason is that women are more likely to form relationships younger and they tend to be with older men who have higher paying jobs or already have houses. Women are more likely to get married and have children with older or successful men so they are very unlikely to move home in this situation. That is not down to ‘mummy boy’ syndrome, it is more down to biological luck of a kind.
So who is really to blame for these ‘boomerang children’; well it is a complicated question. Overwhelmingly it is the economic crisis which is at the heart of the matter, but that is at the heart of pretty much every problem in the world. So on a deeper analysis it could be argued that it is the lack of the older generation of workers willing to move on and make way for the new generation. This is a measure which could certainly help a lot of young people. So stop moaning about your kids returning home and make way for them to actually get a job.