“Boomerangers,” the Recession and the Family

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Aug 13, 2011    •    625 Views

The “boomeranger” has returned. A Pew Research Survey found that 13% of all households are composed of parents with adult children who moved away and then returned home. Pew’s respondents say the economy was the reason these “boomerangers” moved back.

In addition, there are fewer newlyweds, delayed babies, and for some, a postponed or canceled divorce. Again, the reason appears to be the Great Recession.

The Economic Lesson

Nobel prize winning economist Gary Becker tells us that marriage is about a lot more than love. Instead, we can better understand marriage by looking at a utility function, a graph that represents fluctuations in satisfaction.

People marry because they expect to, “raise their utility level above what it would be were they to remain single.” (The Essence of Becker, p. 273)

An Economic Question: Thinking of Becker’s reference to utility levels, how might the Great Recession have affected the attractiveness of marriage?

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