Living at Home Isn't Just for Losers: How the Great Recession Has Transformed the Life Course for Millennials

Maria Kefalas, Saint Joseph's University
Barbara Ray, MacArthur Foundation Network on the Transition to Adulthood
Patricia Tevington, University of Pennsylvania
Patrick Carr, Rutgers University
Frank Furstenberg, University of Pennsylvania

Based on 85 in-depth interviews with working-, middle-, and upper- class graduates from three Philadelphia suburban high schools, ranging in ages from 22 to 24 years old, we analyze how the Great Recession has transformed the meaning of adulthood (Settersten 2011). In this paper, we argue that the social, cultural and economic consequences of the Great Recession - and its disproportionate impact on emerging adults (Kahn 2010) - have fundamentally reoriented the transition to adulthood. Though Millenials cling to the conviction that one cannot live with your parents and embark on a fully adult life. Economic uncertainty has transformed living at home into a modal (if not normative) reality. Indeed, young adults increasingly face a future where they anticipate forgoing the milestones of adulthood because of their extended dependence on their parents. Unable to achieve economic security needed to establish their own households, they become trapped in life course "limbo."

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Presented in Session 12: The Demography of Young Adulthood in the United States