The incidence of twentysomething men still living with their parents has been on the rise for many years, even more now as the economy tumbles. But a new study suggests that mom and dad are not doing junior any favors by letting him leech. Rather than helping him, they may be enabling his violent tendencies.
The study examined 8397 young men and women, focusing on mental health problems and violent behavior over the past five years. The results: in comparison to those not living at home, staying in the parental home is a stronger risk factor for young men’s violence than any other single factor.
The main reason for this finding cited by the researchers is that young men living at home enjoy the accommodations provided by their parents without very much responsibility. They have more disposable income (because they’re not paying rent, supporting a family, etc.) which gives them more access to alcohol and drugs, which in turn strongly correlates with violence outside the home, typically involving strangers. In the UK, where this study was performed, young men living at home make up only four percent of the population but account for 16 percent of violent injuries.
Other studies, like this one, have found a link between living with parents as an adult and higher levels of depression. There may be something about not transitioning into an independent role that casts a shadow on the psyche.
On the other hand, cultural factors must also be taken into account. The negative dynamics of living at home in the UK and U.S. don’t necessarily apply to other places, like Italy for example, where a whopping 80% of men ages 18-30 still live with their parents. This study delved into that astonishing fact and found something quite interesting: a 10% increase in parents’ annual income correlates with a 10% increase in the proportion of men living with their parents.
In other words, the more money mom and dad have on hand to support their adult children, the more their adult children are happy to oblige by sticking around. The rub, however, is that Italian parents seem happy to have them stay. Coresidence is considered a net positive for both parents and children, unlike in other countries–the U.S. in particular–where it’s often perceived as shameful and embarrassing.