Why More Students and Young Adults are Living at Home
The economy is a mess. We have produced plenty of wealth, but more and more of us are not seeing those benefits. Young adults are the ones feeling the brunt of this growing problem. There is an increasing cohort of students, job seekers, and even employed Canadians well into their 20s who are living with their parents. But why? The multiple reasons for this paint a complex image of a progressive country crippled by rampant economic inequality.
In 1995, one in five of Canadians 25 to 29 years of age lived with their parents. In 2016, it was just one in three. Adults aged 25 to 64 living at home more than doubled from 900,000 in the 1990s to 1.9 million in 2017. There is an undeniable trend here. More and more students and adults are living with their parents well into their twenties. Students are facing an uphill battle of escalating student debt, housing prices, and general cost of living. This, coupled with fewer full-time employment opportunities and less job security, has vastly changed how young Canadians venture into adulthood.
Life is getting more expensive compared to previous generations. Debt held by millennials went up more than 12% from 2018 to 2019. The cost of living in a major city like Toronto went up $475 in that same time period, far surpassing inflation. Young people owe most of the $1.88 trillion owed throughout Canada. The non-profit group Generation Squeeze concluded in a study that in order for Canadians aged 25 to 34 to afford the average home, their annual earnings would have to double to about $93,400 – and home prices would have to drop by 50%, or over $200,000. There is an undeniable chasm between earnings and affordability, and it is hitting the youngest the hardest.
Nevertheless, there is another factor at play here. Adults living with their parents may look like a step backward for them, but that has not always been the case. It was once the norm. There was a huge economic boom in the post-World War II era, with each generation seeing a better quality of life than the one before it. This trend of adult students and workers living at home is also a resurgence of a cultural norm evident throughout much of human history. This is especially evident amongst cultures where it is more socially acceptable; while 9% of all adults live with their parents in this country, the same is true for 21% of South Asian adults. Multigenerational households have the advantage of greater financial and emotional support.
It is crucial to challenge the stigma of grown students and adults living with their parents. It is not a weakness or a cause for ridicule. In fact, it is the expectation for many cultures and normal from a historical perspective. What is worrying, however, is the growing economic disparity in this country and globally. With so much wealth held in the hands of so few, the younger generation is left with weaker career opportunities, skyrocketing costs of living, and stagnant wages. This simply cannot continue. It will take a unified effort to dismantle the status quo. Whether you are a student living at home or a young adult living on your own, we all benefit from an economy that is not an unequal mess.
Ansari, Sadiya. “The number of adults living with their parents has doubled since 1995. Culture is a driving factor.” Global News. https://globalnews.ca/news/4968136/the-number-of-adults-living-with-their-parents-has-doubled-since-1995-culture-is-a-driving-factor/
Febbrao, Jenny. “Cost of Living, Not Mortgages Are Draining The Pockets of Canadians.” Toronto Storeys. https://torontostoreys.com/cost-of-living-mortgages-canadians/
Forani, Jonathan. “‘Troubling’: Home prices nearly double what Canadian millennials can afford, says report.” CTV News. https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/troubling-home-prices-nearly-double-what-canadian-millennials-can-afford-says-report-1.4464569
The Global and Mail. “Statistics Canada says adults living with parents are employed and single.” https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-statistics-canada-says-adults-living-with-parents-are-employed-and-2/