Young Americans Are Refusing To Fly The Coop

Today, young Americans have abandoned the pioneer dream to migrate to better opportunities and settle in more prosperous lands.

According to the Pew Research centre, the number of young adults living at home doubled between 1980 and 2008, and the overall migration rate reached its lowest level from 2007 to 2008 since World War II. Somewhere between the previous generation and today, Americans have become risk-aversed, decided not to fly the coop and dubbed as “Generation Stuck” by Derek Thompson at The Atlantic:

Like the fall in homeownership, and the decline of marriage, the slowdown in American migration is a long-term trend that accelerated in the recession. But there is something peculiar about our current state of statism. Americans are most likely to move long distances when they are (a) young, (b) single, and (c) renters. We have plenty of young people. We have a historic number of singles. With home ownership gutted, rents are rising across the country. So, why aren’t we moving more?

But the crucial question is, how will this affect us in the long-run? Young people are supposed to take chances, pack their bags and move to places where their job prospects are better, but if they’re unwilling to do so, will this lead to a slow recovering economy?

Todd and Victoria Buchholz at The New York Times report that it will:

But Generation Y has become Generation Why Bother. The Great Recession and the still weak economy make the trend toward risk aversion worse. Children raised during recessions ultimately take fewer risks with their investments and their jobs. Even when the recession passes, they don’t strive as hard to find new jobs, and they hang on to lousy jobs longer.

Brookings, a public policy organisation, says the global recession has “left Americans flat-footed, as would-be movers were unable to find financing to buy a new home, buyers for their existing homes, or employment in more desirable areas.”

In other words, young Americans have sadly lost their wings to fly. 


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