The Accordion Family: Boomerang Kids, Anxious Parents, and the Private Toll of Global Competition
January 17, 2012
Why are adults in their twenties and thirties boomeranging back to or never leaving their parents' homes in the world's wealthiest countries?
Why are adults in their twenties and thirties boomeranging back to or never leaving their parents' homes in the world's wealthiest countries? Acclaimed sociologist Katherine Newman addresses this phenomenon in this timely and original book that uncovers fascinating links between globalization and the failure-to-launch trend. With over 300 interviews conducted in six countries, Newman concludes that nations with weak welfare states have the highest frequency of accordion families. She thoughtfully considers the positive and negative implications of these new relationships and suggests that as globalization reshapes the economic landscape it also continues to redefine our private lives.
"Combining personal interviews with careful analysis of economic trends, and paying close attention to differences in cultural values and political structures, Newman sheds new light on the complex trade-offs that recent changes in intergenerational relationships and residence patterns involve for young adults, their parents, and society as a whole." --Stephanie Coontz, author of The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap
"In this wide-ranging book, Katherine Newman shows that the ages at which young adults leave their parents' homes are rising in developed countries around the world. She brilliantly demonstrates that the global forces behind this change are everywhere the same but that each nation interprets it in its own cultural way. Newman's insightful presentation of the stories of accordion families challenges us to re-think what it means to be an adult today." --Andrew Cherlin, author of The Marriage-Go-Round: The State of Marriage and the Family in America Today
"With the unerring eye and keen insight that has become her hallmark, Katherine Newman identifies a previously unexamined casualty of the new global economy--the prolonged dependence of adult children on their families. The resulting 'accordion family,' as she calls it, is emerging all over the developed world due to declining job prospects for young people, increasingly expensive higher education, and the increasing costs of living on one's own. The responses to this trend--social, political, and economic--will shape generations to come. Brilliant and important." --Robert B. Reich, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California-Berkeley and author of Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future
Katherine Newman is professor of sociology and James Knapp Dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, and has taught at the University of California-Berkeley, Columbia, Harvard, and Princeton. Newman is the author of ten books on middle-class economic instability, urban poverty, and the sociology of inequality, including The Missing Class: Portraits of the Near-Poor in America.
Read Katherine Newman on the New York Times Room for Debate blog: The Whole Family Under One Roof?