Clark University Poll of Parents of Emerging Adults findings released

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Emerging adults getting by with a lot of help from their folks; wide majority of parents providing the financial support they didn’t get in their twenties

_ParentsPoll2_Clark2013 (2) cmpA vast majority of parents of today’s emerging adults (74%) say they provide financial support to their 18- to 29-year-old children, even as they report getting little or no financial backing from their own parents when they were young adults, according to a new Clark University Poll of Parents of Emerging Adults, the definitive national survey of this demographic group. The survey also reveals that 42 percent of parents rank money as an area of conflict with their grown kids, making it the No. 1 source of conflict.

The new poll of more than 1,000 parents follows the 2012 Clark University Poll of Emerging Adults.

“There are mixed feelings on both sides when it comes to money issues,” says Clark University Professor of Psychology and Poll Director Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, Ph.D. “Parents want to help their kids make it through a time of life that is often tough, but they’re ready for the day when their kids are no longer a drain on their own finances. Emerging adults usually need parents’ financial support, because most are either going to school or working in a low-paying job, but they want to make independent decisions about their lives. Money is power, and if parents are giving them money then parents also want to have a say in how it is spent.”

SOME NEW FINDINGS (From parents of emerging adults):

How much financial support do you provide to your child?

  • Little or none – 26%
  • Occasional support when needed – 30%
  • Frequent support when needed – 15%
  • Regular support for living expenses – 29%
  • (The youngest kids are most likely to receive parents’ financial help. Only 11% of 18- to 21-year-olds get “little or none,” compared to 44% of 26- to 29-year-olds)

How much financial support did your parents provide to you when you were in your twenties?

  • Little or none – 61%
  • Occasional support when needed – 26%
  • Frequent support when needed – 8%
  • Regular support for living expenses – 5%

What are the main topics of conflict with your child now, if any?

  • Money: 42%
  • Occupational progress: 33%

What are the main worries or concerns you have about your child?

  • Financial problems: 38%
  • Lack of work progress: 27%

To what extent are you concerned that your child is taking too long to become financially independent?

  • “Not at all concerned” – 50%
  • “Somewhat concerned” – 31%
  • “Very concerned” – 19%
  • (75% of emerging adults say “I’d prefer to live independently of my parents even if it means living on a tight budget.”)

The 2013 Clark University Poll of Parents of Emerging Adults was developed by Arnett, who coined the term “emerging adulthood.” He recently co-authored (with Elisabeth Fishel) “When Will My Grown-Up Kid Grow Up: Loving and Understanding Your Emerging Adult” (Workman; May 2013). The book offers insights into how parents and their emerging adult children can navigate this stage in their relationship/development.

Founded in 1887 in Worcester, MA, Clark University (www.clarku.edu) is a small, liberal arts-based research university addressing social and human imperatives on a global scale.

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