The Accordion Family: Boomerang Kids, Anxious Parents, and the Private Toll of Global Competition
April 15, 2013
Why are adults in their twenties and thirties stuck in their parents’ homes in the world’s wealthiest countries? There’s no question that globalization has drastically changed the cultural landscape across the world. The cost of living is rising, and high unemployment rates have created an untenable economic climate that has severely compromised the path to adulthood for young people in their twenties and thirties. And there’s no end in sight. Families are hunkering down, expanding the reach of their households to envelop economically vulnerable young adults. Acclaimed sociologist Katherine Newman explores the trend toward a rising number of “accordion families” composed of adult children who will be living off their parents’ retirement savings with little means of their own when the older generation is gone. Newman’s investigation, conducted in six countries, transports the reader into the homes of accordion families and uncovers fascinating links between globalization and the failure-to-launch trend. Newman concludes that nations with weak welfare states have the highest frequency of accordion families while the trend is virtually unknown in the Nordic countries. The United States is caught in between. But globalization is reshaping the landscape of adulthood everywhere, and the consequences are far-reaching in our private lives. In this gripping and urgent book, Newman urges Americans not to simply dismiss the boomerang generation but, rather, to strategize how we can help the younger generation make its own place in the world.
The Accordion Family: Boomerang Kids, Anxious Parents, and the Private Toll of Global Competition, by Katherine S. Newman. Boston : Beacon Press, 2012. 261 p. ISBN 9780807007433
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