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COVID-19

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

Jasmine Garsd Jul 28, 2020
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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
Heard on:
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’s the outlook for vaccine supply?

Chief executives of America’s COVID-19 vaccine makers promised in congressional testimony to deliver the doses promised to the U.S. government by summer. The projections of confidence come after months of supply chain challenges and companies falling short of year-end projections for 2020. What changed? In part, drugmakers that normally compete are now actually helping one another. This has helped solve several supply chain issues, but not all of them.

How has the pandemic changed scientific research?

Over the past year, while some scientists turned their attention to COVID-19 and creating vaccines to fight it, most others had to pause their research — and re-imagine how to do it. Social distancing, limited lab capacity — “It’s less fun, I have to say. Like, for me the big part of the science is discussing the science with other people, getting excited about projects,” said Isabella Rauch, an immunologist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Funding is also a big question for many.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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