Report reveals ‘Boomerang kids’ cause significant decline in parents’ wellbeing

Grown-up children who move back home worsen parents’ quality of life, research suggests. Source: Getty

While many Baby Boomers are more than happy to have visits from the kids and grandkids some would shake in fear at the prospect of having their kids move back in.

A report reveals that these fears are not unfounded and that grown-up children who return to the family home after a period away cause a dramatic decline in their parents’ wellbeing.

The study conducted by the London School of Economics (LSE) explored the impact that the so-called “boomerang generation” had on their parents’ quality of life, noting that after decades of growing independence among young adults, the trend is now coming full circle with an increase in inter-generational living.

The study reports that rising housing costs and job insecurity are the main reasons “boomerang kids” return to the family home. This return to the family home is often viewed as a “violation” by parents who are enjoying their retirement with improved marital relationships, fresh interests, and new hobbies–according to the study.

“The findings show that returning home was correlated with a decline in parents’ quality of life when there were no other children in the parental home. Parents enjoy their independence when their children leave the home, and refilling an empty nest may be regarded as a violation of this life course stage,” the report states.

The study also makes the point that living with “boomerang kids” is a bit of a double-edged sword–while kids can be a source of practical and emotional support, they can also cause stress and conflict.

According to LSE’s research officer, Dr Marco Tosi, “when children leave the parental home, marital relationships improve and parents find a new equilibrium. They enjoy this stage in life, finding new hobbies and activities. When adult children move back, it is a violation of that equilibrium.”

“Our work shows that in contexts where family orientations and welfare institutions foster individuals’ independence, returns home by adult children have negative implications for parents’ wellbeing,” Tosi said.

To measure the parents’ quality of life, the study looked at 12 key indicators including the sense of control, autonomy, pleasure and self-realisation. The scale for measuring these indicators ranged from 12 to 48, with higher scores indicating a higher quality of life.

Using this measure it was found that when a “boomerang child” returned to the family home the parents’ “quality of life” score dropped by an average of 0.8 points.

Figures from the report also revealed that this decline in the quality of life of baby boomer parents is scarily similar to the decline in the quality of life someone experiences when they suffer from an age related disability.

The report explained that “economic difficulties and temporary instability prompt returns to the parental home, particularly among young adults who leave education to find a position in the labour market.”

“Similarly, union dissolution may prompt a return to the parental home as a possible solution to economic, housing and emotional problems. For parents, these events in a child’s life may be distressing.

“Parents tend to suffer when they see their children suffer.”

In 2022, research conducted by Finder found that 13 per cent of Australians, or  858,000 households, have had an adult child move back home in the past 12 months.

Among those who returned home or had their grown children move back in, nearly 31 per cent did so because they were worried about the affordability of renting.

A whopping 35 per cent (approximately 300,000 households) returned home or had a child move back to save money for a down payment on a home. 19 per cent of those who had a child come back were compelled to do so due to job loss.


This article was previously published on March 8, 2018, and has been updated on June 28, 2023.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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