Boomerang kids and parents’ well-being: adaptation, stressors, and social norms

Publication type

Journal Article

Published in

European Sociological Review


Marco Tosi

Publication date


Previous research has shown that living with an adult child affects the well-being of parents. However, little is known about parental adaptation to changes in living arrangements or about concomitant stressors that may moderate the effect of adult children returning to the parental home. Drawing on data from eight waves of the UK Household Longitudinal Study (2009–2017), I use distributed fixed effects linear regression models to analyse changes in parents’ symptoms of depression before, during, and after a child’s return to the parental home. The results show that parents experience an increase in symptoms of depression when a child returns home but recover to their previous levels of mental well-being in the subsequent year. Unemployed and low-income children returning home are associated with larger increases in parents’ symptoms of depression, whereas there are no effects with regard to union dissolution. These findings support the hypothesis that children returning home are more detrimental to older parents if it occurs in concomitance with an economic crisis in the child’s life. However, after a short-term decline in their well-being, parents are able to adapt to boomerang moves and accustom themselves to the new family dynamics.





Older People, Economics, Well Being, Health, Life Course Analysis, Sociology Of Households and Social Psychology



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