What Are Boomerang Children?

Boomerang children, or boomerang kids, are terms used to describe the phenomenon of an adult child returning home to live with their parents for economic reasons after a period of independent living. In 2016, 15% of millennials lived in their parents’ home, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of monthly U.S. Census Bureau information.

Fast forward four years, this figure has jumped to 52% of young adults living with their parents, based on the same analysis by Pew in mid-2020. The cause for the uptick? The global outbreak, which as of February 2021, continues to negatively impact jobs, health, and social welfare in the United States.

Key Takeaways

  • Boomerang children are young adults or other adult children who move back in with their parents after living independently.
  • Often, boomerang children return to their parents for economic reasons such as low wages, low savings, high debt, or unemployment, or global financial crisis.
  • Family circumstances such as divorce may create boomerang situations.

Understanding Boomerang Children

Boomerang is an American slang term that refers to an adult who has moved back home to live with their parents after a period of living independently. Frequently used in the press, this term is sometimes applied to individuals and describes a generational shift, referred to as the boomerang generation.

When applied to an individual, a boomerang indicates a person who returns home due to overwhelming or unsustainable costs associated with maintaining a separate household.

Generationally, the term references the economic shift that occurs after the Baby Boom generation, based on the notion that subsequent generations, including Generation X and Millennials, could be the first generations in American history to earn less than their parents.

Impact of the Boomerang Generation

According to Census Data, adults ages 18-24 attributed to most of the growth in the 2020 statistics. Census data also indicates that since 1981, the rate of adult children living with parents has risen steadily, even before the 2020 economic crisis.

There are many potential benefits to parental households welcoming boomerangs back home, including emotional benefits of avoiding empty nest syndrome, as well as mutual financial support with household expenses. However, such arrangements can present significant financial complications.

Boomerang children may present a drain on a parent’s retirement savings, sometimes prompting a decision to delay retirement

Boomerangs Around the World

While the term boomerang primarily refers to an American phenomenon, other countries experiencing similar conditions have adopted descriptive terms to identify the children who return, or never leave, home. For example, in the U.K., children boomeranging back home has given rise to the acronym KIPPERS (or Kids In Parents' Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings).

In many cultures, however, intergenerational cohabitation is commonplace. In many ways, the practice of adult children moving away from parents is a more modern practice facilitated by Western industrial development, and an overall trend for generations to pass increased prosperity to the next generation.