"Parents are now being called on to provide financial and other kinds of assistance to their young adult children," Ray said. "A century ago, the opposite was true. Then, young adults often helped their parents when they went to work and especially if they still lived together."
New evidence shows that parents are spending 10 percent of their annual income to help their adult children, regardless of their income level. "And that's a whole lot of money for some kids to get and for many parents to give, or to afford," Settersten said.
Despite all the discussion of kids staying at home longer or coming back later, Settersten said, it is important to remember there remains a sizable period of living independently from parents in early adulthood today. The percentages of people who have never married and who are intentionally childless are also higher now than at any other time in American history.
"Today, the young adult years are filled up with many different kinds of living arrangements, some of which more often involve parents," he said. "But what is perhaps more significant is the fact that these arrangements don't as often involve spouses."
Now in the midst of a recession, pressures on middle class families are great, Settersten and Ray note. The longer path to adulthood strains not only families but also the institutions that have traditionally supported young Americans in making that transitionsuch as residential colleges and universities, community colleges, military service, and national service programs. The authors emphasize the need to strengthen these institutions to better reflect the times.
"Only by continuing or increasing investments in young people after the age of 18 can policy makers implement the supports needed to make the road to adulthood less draining for families and less perilou
|Contact: Rick Settersten|
Oregon State University