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My Take

Adult children living with parents is nothing to be ashamed of

For Chinese, the young and old living together is considered a source of joy and fortune; maybe more Westerners should adopt this age-old Chinese attitude

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 March, 2016, 11:45pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 March, 2016, 3:43pm

When a close relative, a member of the millennial generation, married several years ago, he moved in with his wife’s parents. Recently, when his wife cheated on him and kicked him out, he moved back to living with his mother.

My old babysitter’s daughter, a fashion designer and another millennial, is single and has never left home. When I recently visited them, she was throwing a temper tantrum because her mother didn’t have time to make soup for dinner that night. Apparently, since she was a child, dinner has usually meant at least three dishes and a soup in their modest middle-class household.

My own experience with the housing situation of so-called millennials is apparently supported by the latest statistics. According to City University’s Urban Research Group, 76 per cent of Hongkongers aged 18-35 are still living with their parents. That’s three out of four!

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Apparently, millennials in practically every developed economy are moving back home; some never left. This is considered a recent trend in that it is a break from the previous generation, at least in Western society. Pew Research finds that 36 per cent of millennials are living with their parents in the United States, up from 32 per cent from before the global financial crisis. Economists have myriad explanations, from the impact of the financial crisis, the bursting of property bubbles in the US and Europe, to the rise of non-contractual temporary jobs and a new lifestyle. Some have argued the phenomenon may have become structural.

In the past, Western families generally expected their children to become independent after their teenage or university years.

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Even today, it’s considered somewhat shameful or at least embarrassing for a late 20s or 30s person to be living with his or her parents.

But in Chinese societies, inter-generational households have always been the norm. There is nothing shameful in living with your parents. Yes, Hong Kong’s unaffordable home prices may be a factor, but then we have a low 3 per cent jobless rate, too.

For Chinese, the young and old living together is considered a source of joy and fortune.

Maybe more Westerners should adopt this age-old Chinese attitude. It would make parents and their adult children feel better about living under the same roof.