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Recession reverses 'empty nest' syndrome in US

Last Updated: Monday, January 28, 2013 - 14:26

Washington: Economic recession is reversing the reality of 'empty nest' of past generations, wherein grown up kids fended for themselves.

Empty nest syndrome is associated with general feeling of loneliness among parents when their children leave home to live on their own for the first time.

Today these nests are full - kids who can't leave, can't find a job and aging parents who need more help than ever before. A life stage of new freedoms, options and opportunities has largely disappeared, suggests a new research from the Oregon State University.

An economic recession and tough job market have made it hard on young adults to start their careers and families.

At the same time, many older people are living longer, which adds new and unanticipated needs that their children often must step up to assist with, the Journal of Aging Studies reports.

The end results, researchers suggest, are "empty nest" plans that often have to be put on hold, and a mixed bag of emotions, ranging from joy and "happy-to-help" to uncertainty, frustration and exhaustion, according to an Oregon statement.

The recession that began in 2008 yielded record unemployment, substantial stock market losses, lower home values and increased demand for higher levels of education.

"We mostly found very positive feelings about adults helping their children in the emerging adulthood stage of life, from around ages 18 to 30," said Karen Hooker, director of the Oregon Centre for Healthy Aging Research.

"Feelings about helping parents weren't so much negative as just filled with more angst and uncertainty," Hooker said.

"As a society we still don't socialise people to expect to be taking on a parent-caring role, even though most of us will at some point in our lives. The average middle-aged couple has more parents than children."

The findings of this research were based on data from six focus groups during 2009-10. It was one of the first studies of its type to look at how middle-aged adults actually feel about these changing trends.


First Published: Monday, January 28, 2013 - 14:26
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