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Millennials 201: The Boomerangers, with Paul Taylor

Paul Taylor, Executive VP of Special Projects at the Pew Research Center, discusses the phenomenon of boomerangers; millennials who come back home to live with their parents after college. Taylor also posits a few theories as to why millennials are one of the least trusting generations. Paul Taylor is the author of “The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown”. http://goo.gl/tBfFgv

Check out Paul Taylor’s other video, Millennials 101. http://goo.gl/AlwI4i

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Transcript: One of the economic and cultural changes that we’ve seen pretty dramatically in the last few decades is the share of young adults who never leave home even after they go through their schooling or at some point in their young lives boomerang back home. And we estimate than more than 40 percent, nearly half of all millennials have either never left, never launched if you will or at some point have boomeranged back home. Now if you can’t find a job, if you’re underemployed, if you’re in a non-paying internship, all those sorts of journeys – mom and dad’s home ain’t a bad place to hang out, you know. The refrigerator is usually stocked and you don’t have to put coins in the laundry. And interestingly I think there was, in my generation there was some stigma attached to that, you know. Get on with your life already for goodness sake. You know, we’ve done some surveying of both the parents of such young adults and young adults themselves looking for tension within those homes, looking for conflict, looking for stigma.

And frankly we don’t find that much. In part because it has become more commonplace and people sort of understand, yeah, that’s the nature of the slow passage into adulthood. You know, there are societies in the world and southern Europe, particularly Italy comes to mind where culturally young men have been living with their mothers, you know, into their thirties and forties – bamboccioni is big baby and mammismo is mama’s boy. And some of this is cultural. Some of this is clearly economic and Europe frankly has the same challenges with not enough jobs for young adults that we have. So a lot of the world is going through this. I think the silver lining is that there don’t seem to be a lot of stresses. Again, I speak as a baby boomer who came of age in the sixties and there was a whiff of generation war in the air. It was a time when there was, you know, women’s rights movement, civil rights movement, anti-war protests. There was a feeling that the older generation had screwed everything up and thank God here we were to make everything right. There was almost a sort of a finger of accusation pointed at the older generation. You see virtually none of that within the younger generation.

In some ways I have a sense from our surveys that young adults have sort of seamlessly migrated from being the children of their parents in many cases to being the roommates of their parents. And they have similar interests and they text each other and they get on with their lives and there’s a certain sort of resilience there. That’s a snapshot of a moment, you know, in this slower passage to adulthood. Again, I don’t think we yet know fast forwarding a decade or two down the road what that will mean, what that will mean for the family formations of these young adults. I suspect what it does mean is that the intergenerational interdependence that we see in these families is likely to last. There’s no question that families stay closer to each other further into the life-cycle than they have indicated in the past.

And when we talk about generational personalities let’s acknowledge up front we are deep into the realm of generalization and stereotype. And they’re – within any generation there is many differences between individuals as there are across generations. And the idea that if you’re born in one year you’re a member of one generation and therefore have one personality. If you were born a year later you’re another generation. That flies in the face of commons sense obviously. Having said that you can look at broad patterns and we can see this with our attitudinal data, our voting behavior, our economic circumstances and again accepting the caveat that these are big generalizations. There are a number of things that do stand out in terms of the persona of this generation. One of them is a wariness. There is a classic question in social science about what we call social trust and the question goes very simply. Generally speaking would you say most people can be trusted or you can’t be too careful when you’re dealing with other people. [TRANSCRIPT TRUNCATED]

Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler, Elizabeth Rodd, and Dillon Fitton

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