One of the key cultural points of differentiation between America and pretty much the rest of the world deals with its young adults. In the United States, for the longest time, it is a rite of passage for children to leave the nest once they are eighteen years old. More traditional or conservative cultures have a problem with this. They’re big about extended families. Some cultures even go so far as to think this is an indication that American parents don’t care about their children. Similarly, some cultures read this is a form of disrespect by the younger generation. None of these is true. This is a key hallmark of American economic mobility.
In many cases, it’s the parents pushing the kids out not so much because they want their space but because it’s a push of encouragement to go out there and make something out of yourself. They understand that economic dependence can retard an adult child’s level of ambition and personal drive. Not surprisingly, America’s economy has been roaring since the post-World War II due to such family patterns. It was expected that once you turn eighteen, you move out of the house, get an apartment, and get your first job. After a few years, you move up in your job or move on to a better-paying job. Eventually, you get married and you move into your own house. After a few years, you then sell that house and buy a bigger house, so on and so forth. That’s been the American blueprint and the American dream.
Unfortunately, thanks to the great financial crash of 2008, an alarming number of young adults stayed home. This has strained family relationships. Moreover, it has cast a very dark cloud over the whole prospect of intergenerational progress and upward mobility. Thanks to the recent jobs recovery in the United States, it appears that the old patterns are coming back. A lot of young adults staying at home are finally signing their apartment leases and moving out of the house. This of course makes mom and dad happier because they could see that their child is now going out in the real world taking chances, putting in the work, and possibly laying the groundwork for a successful future.
It would be very interesting how this would all play out because the trend might reverse again. Why? The recovery is actually quite wobbly. While jobs are increasing, the number of people who have given up on looking for jobs has actually reached record high levels. Moreover, a lot of those jobs being created are actually lower-paying jobs. They are service jobs. Taken all together, it remains to be seen whether the recovery will continue at its present pace and strength.