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February 15, 2012

Bad Economy Creates ‘Accordion Families’

Young people the world over are having a hard time finding steady work and making ends meet in the struggling economy, and as a result, many are returning home to live with their parents. One sociologist calls that phenomenon the “accordion family”because children leave home and return over and over again.

In some countries, the practice is so widespread that the birthrate has fallen significantly because young people aren’t starting families of their own. In the U.S., it hasn’t yet had a significant effect on birthrate, but the old expectations that children leave home at the age of 18 have gone out the window.

While the Japanese frown on the “accordion family” trend in their country and the Italians embrace it, Americans are largely ambivalent toward their children coming back home after college. Many parents say it’s okay and they enjoy it, as long as their children are pursuing work or planning for their futures in the meantime.


“Most of our friends live in their parents’ houses because they can’t pay rent.”

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