Millennial Marketing has an interesting post looking into research done on Gen Y in the US, and how they’re responding to the economic downturn.

There are plenty of fresh observations being made around this younger set of people, growing up in a different world to their older siblings, parents and grandparents. From having helicopter parents, to suggestions that adolescence should be extended into the early 30’s (adultescence), all make for different world views, and a fundamental change in how Gen Y approach their lives.

Wikipedia describes Helicopter Parents as:

Helicopter parent is a colloquial, early 21st-century term for a parent who pays extremely close attention to his or her child’s or children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. Helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters, they hover closely overhead, rarely out of reach, whether their children need them or not. In Scandinavia, this phenomenon is known as “curling parenthood” and describes parents who attempt to sweep all obstacles out of the paths of their children. It is also called “overparenting”. Parents try to resolve their child’s problems, and try to stop them coming to harm by keeping them out of dangerous situations.

In an interesting New York Times post, ‘Why are so many people in their 20’s taking so long to grow up?‘:

It’s happening all over, in all sorts of families, not just young people moving back home but also young people taking longer to reach adulthood overall. It’s a development that predates the current economic doldrums, and no one knows yet what the impact will be — on the prospects of the young men and women; on the parents on whom so many of them depend; on society, built on the expectation of an orderly progression in which kids finish school, grow up, start careers, make a family and eventually retire to live on pensions supported by the next crop of kids who finish school, grow up, start careers, make a family and on and on. The traditional cycle seems to have gone off course, as young people remain un tethered to romantic partners or to permanent homes, going back to school for lack of better options, traveling, avoiding commitments, competing ferociously for unpaid internships or temporary (and often grueling) jobs, forestalling the beginning of adult life.

It’s at least these two trends that have enabled this generation to adapt to the economic downturn. Millennial Marketing uses research conducted by the University of Minnesota, and explains some of the study and it’s findings:

Participants were originally selected in 1988 when they were ninth-graders, and surveyed every year from 1997, when they were aged 23 or 24, through 2005, when they were 31 or 32.  The study found almost half the young adults received either financial support from their parents or permission to return home to save on expenses. Far from being ‘slackers, for these young adults, moving home was a rational response to the increased cost of housing and healthcare, combined with higher unemployment rates.  The savings provides options,  and parents were happy to do what they can to help.  Intriguingly, the presence of support cuts across all income levels, but there is a relationship to education, with more educated parents more likely to provide support.

I don’t have enough robust data to know if this is a global trend, but I’m prepared to suggest that it is? In my conversations with this generation in South Africa, they certainly have helicopter parents at play, and I’m often astounded at how many still rely on parental support, not only financially, but for washing clothes, buying groceries, and other very basic and simple practical tasks in their lives.

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