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The Age of the Boomerang Boys: Why So Many Young Men Live With Their Parents

31/05/2016 12:26 | Updated 02 June 2016

According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, young American men are more likely to live in their family home than in any other form of accommodation. This means that for the first time since the 1940s there are more men aged 18-34 living with their folks than with a wife, partner, or by themselves. Similar research from the UK also shows that over a quarter of young people live with their mum and dad, with young men being by far the most likely to do so. There is a clear trend emerging which shows that young men are not only likely to live in their parents' home but are also the most likely out of all the demographics to do so. Generation Y is very much the 'Boomerang Generation' and its young men are a generation of 'Boomerang Boys'.

I, for instance, am one such young man. While my personal circumstances should soon allow me to move out; I am, for the time being, a 28-year-old Boomerang Boy. I say this only to pre-empt any accusations of ignorance and to prove that I know what I am talking about. This is about men like me and the circumstances in which we have become adults... almost.

Part of the reason that young men are still living 'at home' is economic. We have grown up against the backdrop of a severe recession that has robbed us of the cheap credit and plentiful homes that were available to the men that came before us. Our earning potential and job security has also been diminished - making the big move more unlikely than it was for previous generations. The economy has not been kind to the Boomerang Boys.

However, the economy is not the whole story. The Boomerang Boys, or Millennial Men, have grown up in a society that has been openly hostile to that hallmark of traditional masculinity and key driver towards establishing a home of one's own - personal independence.

Consider our education. We went through the school system during the transformation away from exams and tests (taken by the individual on their own) and towards coursework, group projects, and the incorporation of group discussion into grades - traditionally areas where men do not do so well. This shifted the emphasis from what one does by oneself towards what 'we' could do 'together'. Some might dismiss this as the result of living in the fluffy 1990s but it is more feasible, given the academic climate at the time, that it was a deliberate effort to redress a perceived imbalance between boys and girls in education - even though girls were outperforming boys at that time and continue to do so. The facts not being allowed to get in the way of a 'social justice' crusade pre-dates even Tumblr.

The popular culture in which we grew up also attempted to dissuade us from relying on ourselves. Compared with the firm-jawed, righteous, and entirely independent characters and examples that our fathers and grandfathers aspired to - such as the Lone Ranger, John Wayne, or the original GI Joe/Action Man - we had the Thundercats, Power Rangers, He-Man, and a zeitgeist of other media with a blatant emphasis on how the protagonist fitted into the team and not what he could do as his own man.

For further proof, have a look at the structure of the current movies of choice for Millennial Man - those making up the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While we are allowed to enjoy the individual efforts of the individual characters; the real centrepieces are the crossover movies where Captain America et al. get together for a party political broadcast on behalf of teamwork. Remember, the entire plot of Avengers: Age of Ultron can basically be summed up as "Dammit Tony Stark, get over yourself!"

The popular culture, education system, and evolution of the workplace of our time has led to a generation of men who neither desire not aspire to personal independence and therefore shun its most famous symbol - the possession of a man's own home. The successful hostile take-over of the popular culture, the media, and the educational establishment by a political agenda that views traditional masculinity - with its moral core of personal independence - as at best old-fashioned and at worst "toxic" has resulted in a generation of men who have been either robbed of, or brainwashed out of, their independence.

These examples are only part of a larger web of cultural changes that have resulted in a dependent generation of young men. Other contributing factors include the breakdown of the traditional family, which saw the masculine role models from whom we should have taken our examples either letting us down or not being there at all, and the abandonment of the traditional trades, industries, and professions which were the purview of men. However, most of these can be traced back to a culture which has discouraged us from thinking about independence as essential to masculinity and has therefore made us perfectly ok with merely being princes in the family castle, rather than encouraging us to be the kings of our own.

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