Even though Americans are considered to be assertive and go-getters, something has changed in our attitude and behavior. People, and especially young people, have become risk-aversive and sedentary. Due to the Great Recession hit, according to the Pew Research Center, the proportion of young adults living at home nearly doubled between 1980 and 2008. The stick-at-home mentality struck college-educated as well as those without the high school degrees.
• Why this new generation, considered the most socially and diversely tolerant, most educated and technologically savvy, and most assertive, is more miserable?
• Why today's generation is literally going nowhere?
• What drives them to still stay with their parents?
• What are we doing about it?
Since young people are underpaid, unemployed and high in student debt, living in the most cities is getting too expensive to live on one’s own. This changing economic landscape is driving more young adults to move back in with their parents. The Office of National statistics states that 2.9 millions people age 20-34 live with their parents. In the US, the proportion of people age 30 to 34 living with their parents has grown by 50 percent since the 1970s, and recession has made things worse. For them home becomes where their parents are. While in Italy the culture of “mammismo”
The parents, largely baby boomers generation and hard hit by Great Recession as well, are at the stage in their life where they need to secure their own future, but are caught between caring for their own elderly parents and supporting their children. For more then 30 million twenty-something workers in US the reality is not bright as well. Defeated by the economy this generation is delayed in its autonomy, afraid to venture into the unknown, immature and hungry to be recognized. As most sheltered and structured generation in US history, they were raised to yearn for instant gratification and want what everyone else has. They don’t want just the newest electronic device or fashion fad; they want the big house, spouse, summer home and the car better than anyone else. They want it because they have been raised to think that having it all is success.
However, the reality is different. Many of the college graduates end up accepting unpaid internship as their first job or end up taking any job, dishwashing or housekeeping, just to join the workforce. They are not prepared to start from the bottom and count small successes on the way to the top. They are thought to want big. The inflated expectations with entitlement are what the life should be. That’s why Internet became an avenue of escape and their new reality. Here, in a virtual world, they can be all the things that in reality they are afraid or unable to challenge and achieve. They stop thinking creatively, truly exploring alternatives and not brave enough to do what no one else did.
They also tend to believe that luck plays a bigger role in their success. Such belief created by exaggerated fear’s assumption breed complacency. Moreover the assumption activated by exaggerated fear makes one become less entrepreneurial and less willing to leave the parents home because the luck counts more than the effort and hard work. Emphasizing luck over logic is creating an atmosphere where progress and success is not likely to thrive.
Can we really blame them for building up inflated expectations with entitlement, self-centered behavior and no interest in much outside their own Facebook page? What have we done to help them face the reality? This is the next generation to take over the leadership role in the society, at work and at home. How are we, as their parents, political leaders or employers, preparing them for these roles?
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