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COVID-19

Millions of Americans face stigma of moving back in with their parents

Jasmine Garsd Jul 28, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
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As people are stuck in tiny apartments in locked-down cities, Mom and Dad's suburban house seems like a good option. Golero via Getty Images
COVID-19

Millions of Americans face stigma of moving back in with their parents

Jasmine Garsd Jul 28, 2020
As people are stuck in tiny apartments in locked-down cities, Mom and Dad's suburban house seems like a good option. Golero via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Americans are struggling to pay rent, and as the financial crisis deepens, many are moving back in with their parents. 

Unlike other cultures, there’s always been a stigma in the United States around living with your family after a certain age. But with a flailing economy, that might be shifting.

Two months ago, Eden Cayen made a difficult decision: She, her husband and their 1-year-old son moved in with her mom in upstate New York.

For Cayen, who is 39, the decision came after what felt like an endless lockdown in a very small Brooklyn apartment.

“I couldn’t imagine spending the summer in the city with my son,” she said. And she and her husband couldn’t afford a bigger place in the city. 

Cayen’s story is increasingly common in America.

“The number of adults living with their parents jumped by about 10% this spring, starting in April,” said Jeff Tucker, an economist with Zillow, which published a report about adults moving back in with their parents. “That’s almost about 3 million people.” 

The trend of adults living with parents and grandparents is growing because of the pandemic, but it is not new. Between 2000 and 2017, the number of 25- to 34-year-olds living with their parents nearly doubled.  

“It’s kind of got the stigma of failure in a way, you know?” said Eden Cayan in upstate New York. “Because you have to go back under their roof. I guess that’s how I see it.”

“It’s a pretty strong belief in the U.S. that to become an adult you have to stand on your own two feet,” said Amy Schalet, professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “You know, the idea of the rugged individual.”

Schalet said as our economy changes, so will the meaning of “growing up.”

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What does the unemployment picture look like?

It depends on where you live. The national unemployment rate has fallen from nearly 15% in April down to 8.4% percent last month. That number, however, masks some big differences in how states are recovering from the huge job losses resulting from the pandemic. Nevada, Hawaii, California and New York have unemployment rates ranging from 11% to more than 13%. Unemployment rates in Idaho, Nebraska, South Dakota and Vermont have now fallen below 5%.

Will it work to fine people who refuse to wear a mask?

Travelers in the New York City transit system are subject to $50 fines for not wearing masks. It’s one of many jurisdictions imposing financial penalties: It’s $220 in Singapore, $130 in the United Kingdom and a whopping $400 in Glendale, California. And losses loom larger than gains, behavioral scientists say. So that principle suggests that for policymakers trying to nudge people’s public behavior, it may be better to take away than to give.

How are restaurants recovering?

Nearly 100,000 restaurants are closed either permanently or for the long term — nearly 1 in 6, according to a new survey by the National Restaurant Association. Almost 4.5 million jobs still haven’t come back. Some restaurants have been able to get by on innovation, focusing on delivery, selling meal or cocktail kits, dining outside — though that option that will disappear in northern states as temperatures fall. But however you slice it, one analyst said, the United States will end the year with fewer restaurants than it began with. And it’s the larger chains that are more likely to survive.

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