The latest US Census Bureau data shows that more members of Generation Y are living closer to home longer and researchers say this is just one of several indicators pointing to a sociological struggle for Millennials.
The same data also shows more Millennials (born in the 80s and 90s) are living in their parents’ homes longer, which sociologists say is having a cross-generational impact as fewer of today’s younger generation leave the nest to get jobs and live their own lives, and subsequently drain the resources of mom and dad.
Part of the problem is rooted in the country’s Great Recession, which has been declared at an end despite the persistence of high employment, a struggling housing market and the growing specter of runaway student loan debt. The other part, say experts, is the increasingly sedentary attitude of Gen Yers that is being stoked by distracting technologies and apprehension about a seemingly inhospitable job market.
It may sound like just another indictment of the “Why Bother” Generation, but some of the statistics are startling. One example is the growing lack of desire for teens to hit the open road. Research indicates that although the affordability of cars has increased since the 1980s, the number of kids trying to get their driver’s licenses dropped from 80% in the early 80s to 65% by 2008. This is not a superficial trend when considered from the sociological perspective that it was once considered a mark of status and achievement for kids to get driver’s licenses.
The counterargument is that Gen Yers are not lazier, but actually smarter by waiting longer to make big, costly decisions like getting married and buying cars and houses. One economist described the generation as “frighteningly calculating” when it comes to these choices, perhaps thanks to being better informed through so-called distracting technologies.
As in most cases, the real answer likely lies somewhere in the middle. It could be that Gen Yers are more closed off from society in a physical or geographical sense, but are nevertheless hyper-connected and educated through technology. The one thing that is clear is that they are not to be underestimated or pigeonholed, even though it is often the habit of older generations to do that very thing.