A recent paper examined the changing nature of family living situations. University of Melbourne
Associate Professor Cassandra Szoeke and Katherine Burn, from the University's Faculty of Medicine, Health and Dentistry Sciences, examined both 'boomerang kids' (those who return home) and 'failure to launch' kids (those who never left).

The project reviewed 20 studies involving 20 million people worldwide and was published in Maturitas.

The research shows:

  • The shifting economic climate and changes in social norms were driving the phenomenon of kids staying at home for longer.

  • The main reasons for young adults choosing to remain at home were for stability and additional support while they transition to university or employment.

  • Divorce, unemployment and health problems often led to children returning. This return under negative circumstances can heavily impact on the wellbeing of everyone in the household.

  • Parents who are well-educated, married and well-off tend to have children who stay home longer, whereas children who grow up in households with a single parent, or step-parent, or didn't finish high school, tend to leave early.

"For young adults grappling with financial and domestic independence, the family home represents a safe haven," Burn said. "But parents can become beleaguered by the financial and emotional demands of their dependent adult children and struggle to maintain their own independence."

Szoeke added that adult children living at home often didn't contribute to housework and were a financial drain on the parents, disrupting plans for retirement. 

"Delayed independence and multigenerational households result in changes in family structure and relationships and has a strong impact on the lives of both the parents and adult children," Szoeke said.