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Stop Throwing Shade At Millennials Who Live At Home

Economists say it’s a smart financial move—let’s lose the stigma

For the first time in 130 years, people ages 18-34 are more likely to live with their parents than in any other arrangement. But when the Pew Research Center released their findings that millennials were likely to bunk with Mom and Dad, the internet seemed surprised. Op-eds ranging from “Dear adults who mooch off parents: Grow up” to “Don’t Be Ashamed If You Still Live at Home” abounded. Public opinion about millennials varies. Some recognize the tough job market, the burden of student debt, and the rising cost of living, but for others, millennials are an easy punch line.

What it lacks in privacy it makes up for in practicality

Despite the negative perception, there’s evidence that those who live at home have an advantage over their counterparts who move away, according to a recent study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. The economists’ research found that in the event of a job loss, those who live with their folks recover faster financially than those who live away from home—by a lot. Young people who lost their jobs but who stayed near their parents earned the same as their counterparts who had not experienced a job loss after only five years. For those young people who chose to move away from their families, it took twice as long (10 years) to catch up.

Courtesy of Pew Research Center

While the idea of sleeping in the same twin bed you did in junior high may be embarrassing to admit at a cocktail party, the reality is that the average American hasn’t made it much farther past their hometown. According to The New York Times’ The Upshot, the average American of any age lives only 18 miles away from mom—a circumstance wholly related to money. The less money someone in the U.S. makes, the more likely he or she is to live in close proximity to his or her parents.

Which begs the question: in these uncertain times, with residual job insecurity from the recession and overwhelming student debt, why is there still a stigma, an aroma of failure, when someone moves back in with the family? The job market is recovering, but job growth for millennials is miles behind job growth for other age groups. In a recent survey, even baby boomers agreed that it’s harder to get started today than when they were young. It’s time to recognize these larger cultural and social factors—not cast judgement on the individual. Instead, let’s celebrate the opportunity for multi-generational connections and the maximum financial benefit. Within a few years, it will pay off.

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