Millennials Supporting Parents Now on the Rise
To our readers: Today GoodCall® explores millennials and how some common ideas about them might not match up with the facts. In this article, writer Marisa SanFilippo points out that millennials supporting parents is becoming more prominent. Earlier today, writer Terri Williams examined how boomeranging – the process of millennials returning home to live with their parents – isn’t necessarily due to student loan debt.
The narrative around millennials has been one of scorn due to the higher levels of the generation who have moved back home with their parents – boomeranging in popular parlance. Actions contrary to this perceived norm as noted as something remarkable and newsworthy.
But the Economic Innovation Group recently completed a survey focused on perceptions about millennials and expectations about the economy. The results show the complex diversity of a generation facing high levels of student debt and an uncertain economic future for themselves and their families.
Why millennials supporting parents is happening
Last year, the Pew Research Center reported, “For the first time in the modern era, living with parents edges out other living arrangements for 18 to 34-year-olds.” This statistic has been used to illustrate a trend among millennials of being ill-equipped to support themselves.
New research has begun to tell a different story. It now appears that this trend can be attributed, at least in part, to millennials supporting parents rather than sponging off them. A study released by Ameritrade shows about a fifth of millennials are classified as financial supporters and as many as one-third are also caregivers.
The study further showed this cohort spent more in support of a parent or adult child than other generations, including both Gen X and Boomers.
|Generation||No. of Adults Supported||Amount Spent Per Supporter in the last 12 Months|
Millennial visibility as the largest generation
Millennials are the largest generation in the history of the United States. Going forward, they will be one of the biggest influencers in the realms of economics, politics, and policy. They came to age during a time of economic instability and technology expansion; those factors and others inspired a different set of values and lifestyle priorities.
The size of the generation, as well as the rapidly changing technological and economic landscapes, has led to what its members classify as a general misunderstanding of their priorities. They say they have married and started families more slowly because they value personal growth and education to a higher degree. Furthermore, they say remaining or returning home has been to provide physical and financial assistance for their families, a trend which is projected to continue to increase in the coming years.
Maybe call it the caregiving generation
Millennials are not only providing financial support to their parents, many have also become the primary caregivers of either their parents or grandparents. Providing physical care for a family member has contributed to the increased numbers of the generation who decide to return home.
The National Alliance for Caregiving AARP Public Policy Institute conducted a survey, and the results indicated millennial caregivers spend an average of 21.2 hours involved in caregiving tasks in addition to 34.9 hours at work.
Many millennials consulted feel their generation has been unfairly stereotyped and have difficulty relating their personal experiences to those portrayed in popular culture. They say they have worked diligently and now care for aging parents unable to care for themselves. To be classified as entitled, lazy, and without drive is offensive and alienating to them, and research gives their version credence.
Millennial Lucinda Honeycutt, a content creator and web designer, explained, “It’s not easy, but it’s necessary to support those you love.”
The desire to care for those they love, both financially and physically, was common in those who identified themselves as millennial caregivers.
The image that emerges is not of a generation described in broad and disparaging terms for being different from those who came before but as a complex and caring generation who are passionate advocates of diversity and caring for others.
An aging population drives millennial choices
The trend of millennials supporting parents and grandparents is projected to increase – due in large part to the aging population. The growth of the older demographic is increasing at an unprecedented rate due to advances in healthcare and technology.
Documentation from the Census Bureau notes that while the population older than 65 is currently at 8.5 percent worldwide, it is expected to jump to 17 percent by 2050. This population will face increasing medical costs and is likely to have less money to devote to that care. Decreasing retirement and Social Security benefits may further complicate the issue and require more millennials supporting parents. While this is not a problem unique to any generation, it will happen in greater numbers than ever before.
Studies such as The Sightlines Project, completed by the Stanford Center on Longevity, continue to show the importance of social connections in maintaining high levels of health and vitality as people age. One potential outcome: The increasing number of millennials living with their parents has the potential to reverse the trend of less engagement and lead to improved health for both groups.