By Eleni Papageorgiou,
What comes to your mind when hearing the word “kangaroo”? Oz and Aussies, I suppose! That is not really the case with the newly born collocation “kangaroo generation”, however. Neologism refers to a generation of young adults or adults in general who cohabitate with their family. History goes that youngsters, after graduating college or university, leave their homebound protection and start experiencing the outside world on their own.
For the last one or two decades, family structures have changed. It is commonplace for young people to stay at home and live like young kangaroos in their mother’s pouch: protected, cared and nurtured with much love and affection. For those in their 20s or 30s, life is too harsh to face. After several attempts to find a decent job, with a good salary and working conditions relevant to their studies, a big number of them quit any effort and prefer the safety of their family nest. In many cultures, however, intergenerational cohabitation is still usual. In western industrial societies, though, that is not the norm.
Are their standards too high? Are they too arrogant and do not want to compromise with anything less? Are they looking for the perfect job? Of course not. They were simply born during a time of great unemployment and recession. Statistics show that in most Mediterranean countries, unemployment rates are high.
The consequences of such a situation vary. The presumably most productive generations who form the vast majority of the workforce remain idle with no expectations and big dreams. If you do not dream big, how can you survive in a competitive society? Not all young, educated and worthy adults can sustain their invulnerability and stay physically and mentally healthy. Many of them exhibit psychological disorders, from melancholy and anorexia nervosa to suicidal thoughts and self-destruction.
Birth rates fall. With no income of their own, not even the slightest thought for raising a family crosses their mind. Birth rates are tragic: 1.32 children in Italy, 1.38 in Spain, and 1.39 in Greece.
Parents of the “kangaroos”, on the other hand, can do nothing else but open their arms and hug their children. In this way, they avoid the empty nest syndrome and the emotional benefits are numerous. Core families used to be a characteristic of the past, but once again society has retracted and we often see large families living all together.
Retirement age limits are sometimes prolonged because of the newly arrived members within the family. Expenses are surely higher and thus Pater Famiglia must bring home the bacon for much longer than he has originally thought and programmed. Is it fair? I guess not. But what can be done? Leave your unemployed child homeless with not even the necessary provisions? It is an ethical dilemma and most of the time the elderly are those who pay the bill.
Kids In Parents’ Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings (KIPPERS) is a slang U.K. term for all those adult children who cannot lead an independent life. Parents may enjoy having their KIPPERS at home but they must also admit there is a new financial strain.
There is also another term to describe a similarly different situation: “Boomerang Children”. The term refers to adult children returning home to live with their parents because of economic reasons, after a period of living independently. In 2016, 15% of Millenials lived in their parents’ homes in the U.S.A. This figure has jumped to 52% in mid-2020. New reasons arose: the COVID-19 pandemic, low wages from closure measures due to the global crisis, health problems associated with the pandemic, etc.
The case of “kangaroo children”, KIPPERS, or Boomerang Children shows the economic shift. They might be the first generation to earn less money than their parents. In Greece the €700 generation, in Italy the €1,000 generation, in France the CPE (first hire) generation, in Spain the one-thousandths, there is a whole world of bamboccini (mum’s children).
These “kangaroo children” cannot stand it anymore. There are protests in France and elsewhere, in order to put an end to this uncertainty. Young adults want to take their future back, and politicians must listen to them carefully.
- Hayes, A., Boomerang Children, Investopedia, Available here
- Hussain, A., Kids in Parents’ Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings (KIPPERS), Investopedia, Available here
- THE DONG-A ILBO, Kangaroo Generation, Available here
- ΤΑ ΝΕΑ, Η οργή της γενιάς καγκουρό, Available here