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November 8th, 2011 (Modified on November 14th, 2011)

Empty nesters becoming endangered species

by Peter Miller


money wrenchEmpty nesters are becoming an endangered species. Children who flew the coop are now coming back, an event which is not necessarily thrilling most parents.

New figures from the Census Bureau tell us that more and more adult children are moving back home. Between 2005 and 2011, the percentage of men age 25 to 34 living at home rose from 14 percent to 19 percent, while the number of female children living at home went from 8 percent to 10 percent over the same time period.

What is empty nest syndrome?

“Empty nest syndrome” is a real thing. Psychology Today describes it as the following: “Empty Nest Syndrome refers to feelings of depression, sadness, and/or grief experienced by parents and caregivers after children come of age and leave their childhood homes. This may occur when children go to college or get married. Women are more likely than men to be affected…Yet this doesn’t mean that men are completely immune to Empty Nest Syndrome. Men can experience similar feelings of loss regarding the departure of their children.”

Parents no doubt love their children, but for many, the thought of having kids move back home is hardly attractive–especially after the children have been out of the house for years. The space and privacy gained while the children were off has value, a value that is largely lost when the kids move back home.

Smooth move: The art of a stress-free move

And for many adult children, the idea of moving home is also a downer. Their goal is to be independent of their folks, and moving back home is evidence of a type of failure and an inability to make it without parental support.

Empty nests are good for the economy

While multi-generational living is a hallmark of some cultures, that hasn’t especially been the case in the U.S. The since WWII, most American kids grow up and move out.

This pattern provides a huge economic benefit. The formation of new households translates into a need to build additional homes and apartments which create more jobs. Now, however, with the worst recession since the Great Depression, the jobs and wages needed to form independent households is often lacking.

October figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the national unemployment rate is 9 percent. But for those ages 16 to 19, the unemployment rate is 24.1 percent. The situation for minorities is worse. The unemployment rate for African-Americans is 15.1 percent and 37.8 percent for African-Americans ages 16 to 19.

A full nest can be a good thing

Given the current job market and the overall state of the economy, not all parents are loathing the fact that their kids are moving back in. Multigenerational living is on the rise in this country. Whether it’s the parents or the adult kids who have lost jobs, the reality is many relatives can no longer afford to live on their own.

Will a new refinance effort from Washington improve household balance sheets and make multigenerational housing a thing of past? We’re not so sure. Emotional feelings aside, returning to the nest is a growing trend that’s certainly built more around necessity than anything else.

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Tim Manni is the Managing Editor of HSH.com and the author of their daily blog, which concentrates on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets.

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