Friday, 27 May 2016

Living (At Home) In America

In the UK and indeed in Europe over the last decade or so, there has been an increasing number of younger people still living at their parents home (often into their early 30's or later) .... sometimes known outside of official reports as 'Kids In Parents Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings' aka 'KIPPERS'. They were first identified at the turn of the century, and as long ago as 2003, there were estimated to be more than a million parents who still had their grown children living at home in the UK alone.

KIPPERS - Children Are Now A Lifetime Commitment

By a decade later, it was being reported as a world wide phenomenon with different names for the generation in many locations where it is an identified phenomena.

In Spain it is being called "generation ni-ni" (adults who still live at home and are neither working nor studying) after the Spanish term "ni estudian, ni trabajan", 'neither a student nor a worker' (rather like the UK government term NEETS - 'not in employment, education or training').

In Italy they are known as "Bamboccioni" – or 'big babies' – where in 2011 nearly 60 per cent of 18-34 year old adults still live in their parents home, up from an already highish 50 per cent in 1983. The proportion of British men in their 20s living with their parents has risen from 59 per cent to 80 per cent in the past 15 years, while the number of women has risen from 41 per cent to 50 per cent. The age of the average first-time house buyer in the UK is now 38.

Rather funnily, an Italian a government minister, admitted in 2010 that his mother washed his underwear and made his bed for him until he was 30. Ironically this was after he demanded a law obliging young Italians to leave the parental nest at 18, to stop them becoming hopelessly dependent on their parents.

But the whole phenomena has historically reversed a 75 yr long trend, of young people leaving home to live in their own or shared accommodation (with friends or a partner). I myself left home first at about 22 to live with a girlfriend and then, after that relationship broke down a few years later and I had gone home again, I moved out finally aged 26 and never returned.

This reversal of the long term western trend appears to be a European wide thing, driven in the whole region by the onset of the last recession, but also by the fact that in some Southern European nations such as Italy, Greece and Spain, many more young people still lived at home until they got married than in Northern Europe .... in fact because of this social split between north and south, of all the 28 countries in the European Union, only six have a lower proportion of 25-34 year olds living with their parents, than the UK. A fact just reinforced by the on-going recessions in southern European countries. However in the UK, the effects of the recession, is also supported by the ever upward rise of house prices (as mass immigration invokes the laws of supply and demand), as one of the drivers of this new trend (See post on housing), not a social convention of living at home until marriage.

But the USA seemed to have bucked this trend change, despite the recession, partly because low land costs mean that housing prices (at a basic level), are not the driver to stay at home that they are in the UK, or even Europe. But now, a recent study by Pew Research Centre, has indicated that for some reason, after a period of more than 130 years, of the trend being to live away from home (historically, mostly living with a partner). In the USA, more adults in the age range 18 to 34 are now likely to live in their parents' home than with a partner. This new report shows that 32.1% of young American adults are living with their parents in 2014, 31.6% were living with a spouse or partner, and just 14% living alone. Whereas in 1960 nearly two-thirds of young Americans were living with a spouse or partner and only one in five lived with a parent.

However, unlike Europe, the drivers for this US change are reported as being primarily a dramatic drop in the number of young Americans who are choosing to settle down romantically i.e. get married or set up home, before the age of 35 years old (a factor in the UK as well). The report states that the median age of the first marriage has risen steadily over the last decade, and it lists only as secondary other reasons to stay with the parents, such as high unemployment levels amongst young men, and stagnant wages i.e. the recession.

Even In Scotland This Would Be A Tricky Pint To Pull

It looks like a case of a pint half full, or pint half empty, kind of interpretation of basically the same phenomena. Its interesting that in the EU, the issues for this social change are listed as primarily economic, whereas in the US its later romances.

Now mildly interesting as this difference in emphasis might seem might just highlight a major difference in the outlook of the two societies, and between the two continents.

Because its in that difference in outlook, that there lies the reasons why we as allies so frequently find our views so different when we view the world. e.g. The USA want the UK to stay in the EU, not for our benefit, but for the US to have some eyes and ears in the European camp. Similarly it wants the EU to let the Turks join (regardless of religious, cultural, political and sundry other reason being against it), to 'calm the middle east down' .... not for the benefit of the EU, which would very likely collapse within a decade into turmoil if this should ever happen.

So 'Pint half full', or 'Pint half empty' .... you have the same commodity but its viewed differently across the two sides of the Atlantic. 


  1. This trend makes it increasingly difficult for the police to hone in on the Norman Bates which lurk in their lists of suspects.

    1. Brought up in a different era, I find the idea of living at home with your parents into your 30's, or 40's (or even later), rather strange. People who did so (usually men) were thought to be rather strange (ala the master Bates you mention).


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