The 'Failure to Launch' Generation
Millennials are having a tough time growing up in the real world, as some pretty staggering statistics reveal.
They are the generation that got trophies, win or lose, just for showing up. The one constantly reminded by their “helicopter” parents how “special” they were, even as those parents bent over backwards to shield them from anything and everything that posed a threat to their “self-esteem.” And now for far too many Millennials, the proverbial chickens have come home to roost — literally. “There are now more young people living with their parents than in any other arrangement,” reveals a new study by the Census Bureau.
“Young” is a pliable word. The study covers adults from ages 18 — through 34. And it further notes that “almost 9 in 10 young people who were living in their parents’ home a year ago are still living there today, making it the most stable living arrangement.”
The stability of arrested development is more like it.
The numbers represent a paradigm shift from four decades ago. In 1975, 31.9 million Americans in the 18-to-34 age bracket were married and lived with their spouse, 14.7 million lived with their parents, 6.1 million lived in another arrangement that included relatives or unrelated roommates, 3.1 million lived alone, and 0.7 million cohabited with an unmarried partner, according to Census Bureau data.
In 2016, only 19.9 million were married and lived with a spouse, 22.9 million lived with their parents, 5.6 million lived in another arrangement, 5.9 million lived alone, and 9.2 million cohabited with an unmarried partner.
The Bureau was somewhat flexible with its definitions. For example, adults living in college dormitories were counted as living with their parents. On the other hand, married couples were defined as spouses even if they were still living in the home of one of their parents.
Why the sea change? “More young men are falling to the bottom of the income ladder,” the study states. “In 1975, only 25 percent of men, aged 25 to 34, had incomes of less than $30,000 per year. By 2016, that share rose to 41 percent of young men (incomes for both years are in 2015 dollars).” The study seemingly ties this change to education. “There are now more young women than young men with a college degree,” it states, “whereas in 1975 educational attainment among young men outpaced that of women.”
Geographical location apparently plays a part as well. The study notes that states with the lowest percentage of Millennials living at home are those where “local labor and housing markets shape the ability of young people to find good jobs and affordable housing, which in turn affects whether and when they form their own households.”
No doubt these are mitigating — and measurable — factors. Yet they don’t explain why, despite being the beneficiaries of a living arrangement that relieves them of life’s most pressing responsibilities, 25% of Millennials living with their parents neither work nor go to school.
Perhaps the primary rationale for legalizing millions of illegals, as in they “do the jobs Americans refuse to do,” rings true with this generation. As columnist J.T. O'Donnell reveals, many Millennials are virtually unemployable. Bosses have no interest in being the surrogate parents Millennials expect them to be, nor do they appreciate their “anti-work” attitude. Employers also reject the notion that a job must be a fun place to go that includes “nice work spaces, amenities like gym memberships, healthy meals on-site, in-house parties, etc. … used in an effort to attract and maintain Millennial workers,” she writes.
Furthermore, two Pew Center reports that indicate much of the Millennial Generation’s lack of self-sufficiency has far more to do with attitude than economics. One reveals that as the economy improved, more Millennials were living with their parents. The other reveals Millennials feel much closer to their parents than previous generations. “Thus the real reason more young adults are living at home is because everyone feels more emotionally comfortable with the arrangement,” columnist Jake Novak explains. “It’s not about economic hardship, it’s about doing what’s easier and more familiar for as long as possible.”
Unsurprisingly, this de facto vacation from life has also taken a toll on the institution of marriage. In 1980, more than two-thirds of Baby Boomers were married. Today more than 50% of 24-35-year-olds remain single. And that’s despite the fact less than half the Boomers started college, while two-thirds of Millennials did.
To be fair, student debt undoubtedly keeps many Millennials from gaining their independence, as a staggering $1.4 trillion in outstanding loans indicates. Yet because student loans are ultimately backed by the taxpayer in the event of a default — absent any liabilities for colleges themselves — tuition costs can be raised without restraint.
Ironically — or is that ignorantly — Millennials support the principles that hang this albatross around their necks. A 2016 YouGov survey reveals 43% of them had a favorable view of socialism, while less than a third had a favorable view of capitalism, making Millennials the only American generation that prefers more government control over their lives. Yet they apparently fail to see that government control of the student loan business, courtesy of ObamaCare, has been the primary driver of skyrocketing tuition costs — and the debt they’ve amassed paying for them.
Perhaps the real reason Millennials prefer more government is because they see it as a surrogate parent, allowing them to one move seamlessly from one cradle to another.
Such thinking goes a long way toward explaining why a whopping 79% of them support “free” college.
Second only to living at home, college campuses are the next best arena where Millennials can cultivate the emotional and intellectual insulation they crave. It is in the hallowed halls of academia where today’s spoiled brats become tomorrow’s fascists, after immersing themselves in a marinade of micro-aggressions, safe spaces, trigger warnings, and social justice, enabled by cowardly, and/or equally radicalized, administrations and faculties. Nothing exemplifies Millennials’ seemingly interminable adolescence more than their desire to censor anything that conflicts with their carefully cultivated worldview. Censorship best described by columnist Heather Mac Donald as “maudlin pleas for self-preservation.”
This obsession with self-preservation has a price. “Millennials want to have their cake, eat all of it, try to get out of paying for it and then indulge in an orgy of self-loathing about the calories they’ve put on as a result of eating dessert they’ve ultimately failed to enjoy,” writes Millennial columnist Sasha Gardner, who further bemoans a generation that refuses to grow up.
It is a refusal underscored by the reality that far too many Millennials have a monumental, wholly unwarranted, the “world owes me a living” sense of self-entitlement. And if they don’t get what they want? It’s because they’re held back by a world full of phobias, bigotry, cultural appropriation, white privilege, sexual harassment, income inequality and a host of other “outrages” best described by Mac Donald as a collective embrace of the “ideology of victimhood.”
If there’s an attitude better suited to paving a path back to the ultimate “safe space” the parental household represents, one is hard-pressed to imagine what it is.