In their book Not Quite Adults: Why 20 Somethings Are Choosing A Slower Path to Adulthood, and Why It’s Good for Everyone, Richard Settersten and Barbara E. Ray point out why it’s taking this generation longer to launch. Today’s young adults are forced to compete with cohorts and stubborn baby boomers for dwindling job opportunities in a downsized economy. Then there’s the massive education loans that have to be repaid. The future indeed seems uncertain.
As a result, a vast majority of young adults who are in their early to late 20s willingly choose to stay at home well after completing their education. According to the 2011 Statistic Canada survey, “42.3% of the 4,318,400 young adults aged 20 to 29 lived in the parental home, either because they never left it or because they returned home after living elsewhere.” The study point that this proportion was “higher than in preceding decades: 32.1% in 1991 and 26.9% in 1981.” Living at home with parents well into one’s adulthood is a phenomenon well-known in the Italian-Canadian community, which has always considered it a cultural norm and a prudent option.
“For me it’s not about staying home so I can be coddled.
It’s about not having to waste money on rent so I can invest in a future where one day,
like my parents and grandparents, I’ll be able to support and provide for my own family”
“For me it’s not about staying home so I can be coddled,” says Marco Arena, a 27-year-old substitute teacher from Toronto. “It’s about not having to waste money on rent so I can invest in a future where one day, like my parents and grandparents, I’ll be able to support and provide for my own family.” When the intention is to plan ahead and work towards a hard earned goal, it’s hard to view staying at home as a failure and more as reflection of the changing times.
Professor Roy Della Savia, who teaches sociology, humanities and social sciences at the University of Toronto, suggests it’s a positive step that helps young adults save for a better tomorrow. “It’s a safeguard to ensure economic stability, scanning the job market for the right career, waiting a little longer to marry, and riding out the uncertainties of an unstable economy.” Undoubtedly, the need for an established future is slowly overriding the elusive dream of immediate independence.
"According to the 2011 Statistic Canada Survey, “42.3% of the 4,318,400 young adults aged 20 to 29 lived
in the parental home, either because they never left it or because they returned home after living elsewhere”
Della Savia points out that “staying at home after graduation will allow the graduate to take control of finances and any long term debt, have an appropriate adjustment period between university and the real world, have a support system and most importantly, graduates get to see their parents in a whole different way - they realize how important it is to keep strong Italian values.” So while the desire to move out and start completely anew remained with the earlier generations, many of today’s young Italian-Canadian adults still carry with them the same work ethic and principles that ultimately led their preceding kin to succeed.