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The New 30-Something (nytimes.com)
221 points by vinnyglennon 19 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 370 comments

> Then there are the free services. Ms. Palmer, who is 39 and lives near Washington, D.C., said that the free 20 to 25 hours of child care she receives every month from her parents contributed to her family’s decision to have a third child. If she were to pay a babysitter, Ms. Palmer estimates it would add up to around $6,000 a year.

This kinda bugs me, not only because inter-generational child rearing has been the norm for most of history rather than something unique that deadbeat millenials are relying on, but also because it propagates the belief that anything you don't pay for with money is considered "free" (the bad "free", as in "deadbeat" or "moocher").

There's the whole debate that GDP is the wrong measure precisely because it doesn't measure these kinds of "unpaid services", but I prefer to look at it another way: a "livable" city is more than what restaurants and bars are around, but also who your neighbors and social connections are (I've heard this described as alternative forms of capital beyond financial capital like social and cultural capital).

It's not that millenials are killing the babysitter industry, it's more millenials are reaching the age where they understand the whole "it takes a village" folk wisdom.

Globalisation doesn't help with that. It's now easier than ever to move to a "hot spot", most of the time for work. But no one knows each other, everyone come for "the game" and their career. Social networks and instant messaging gives you the illusion that you still have a community.

It's all good in your 20s, when you're in good health, and when it's easy and cheap to make friends. Then you hit your 30s and find out that you don't have any community, everyone moved somewhere else, the city is too expensive for a 2-3 bedrooms flat, and even if you stayed you'd have to work full time (if not overtime), which means you'd need someone else to bring your kids to school and take care of him/her after work, which isn't free.

It's a lot like the "get a loan to buy a car, buy a car to go to work, work to pay the loan" analogy. It's not a life, you merely exists for work and pay other people to take care of what used to be the core experience. At the end of the day the only thing you're looking for is a meal and this new netflix show your heard about.

The worst part is, as you said, that it's now frown upon to rely on your community because it's "free", and surely you haven't made it if you rely on free things.

I think what's especially twisted about this situation is the two-sided nature of it.

If you come from wealth, it's easy to get into a good school, and your parents can subsidize you while you're launching your career (or outright create a career for you).

If you don't come from wealth, and you get to a city, and you start making over $200k, it's hard to even take advantage of it.

Instead of having parents to subsidize me, I have parents who are pretty broke and in bad health. How can I justify buying a modest house in my area (for $1M), when my parents are piling up debt, struggling to pay rent, and barely able to buy groceries?

Flip that even further to people who come from really poor countries like India. I can't imagine if my parents were working $1 an hour -- how could I pay $3k in rent? How can you invest thousands of dollars in yourself when your parents don't even make that much in a year?

But if you don't make those investments, you're never going to get ahead...

It's not just that wealthy millennials have a huge advantage, but coming from a poor family has a HUGE disadvantage in terms of social mobility as well.

> How can I justify buying a modest house in my area (for $1M), when my parents are piling up debt, struggling to pay rent, and barely able to buy groceries?

Is this a moral conflict, i.e. you don't feel comfortable spending that much money? Or you're actually giving so much money to your parents that you can't afford to buy a house?

I think it's a moral conflict, but not because of the price strictly -- but because of where that money could be used instead.

For example, my down payment could buy my Mom's house, my Dad's house, and my brother's house. The conflict is -- how can I spend that much money on myself? Instead, I could retire both of my parents, and set my brother up for success at the cost of continuing my current life as usual.

It doesn't seem like a huge burden to me to continue my life as usual. And it would be completely life changing to the rest of my family (the people I care most about) to allocate my money in a different way.

On an infinitely smaller scale -- this is similar to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. How much money should you invest now to help people in the future vs giving people money now?

When I was 20, I was giving my family 10s of thousands of dollars a year. The cost of that was that I delayed my career advancement to the point I could be making an extra $100-200k per year now. Sure, I'll get to that point in 2 years time.

But was it really worth it to spend $30k to pay for some weddings and refrigerators and medical expenses 8 years ago to miss out on $300K+ in earning potential over that time period? No. Definitively.

Is it worth it to give my family $200k now when I hope to turn that into a million+ in 5 years? I don't think so. How do they see it? Well, they want the $200k now. Maybe that type of vision is why we're in different situations. Who knows?

It's a very personal choice on how you allocate money. My grandfathers worked in a steel mill and a coal mine. They scrimped and saved for my parents and their siblings to have a better life. My parents were the first generation to go to college and became teachers. They scrimped and saved to give my generation a better life. I'm saving to give my kids a better life. If they needed it, I'd also step up and give money to my parents; fortunately, they don't need it.

If I were in your situation, I'd want to secure my own family's housing and retirement at least as much as your parents' housing and retirement, so as in many things, balance is going to be key. But if you truly value changing their lives at the expense/delay of your own, there's nothing stopping you from doing it and obviously nothing wrong with it. It's a very personal choice.

> But was it really worth it to spend $30k to pay for some weddings and refrigerators and medical expenses 8 years ago to miss out on $300K+ in earning potential over that time period? No. Definitively.

Where exactly are you investing $30,000 that returns more than 100% / year for 8 years?

It's not about "investment".

The opportunity cost of doing things when you're at a low wealth level is enormous.

The obvious example would be to consider the gap between being homeless with $0 and being homeless with $5K.

Your earnings potential just essentially went up by an infinite amount because now you can rent an apartment, get a job, perhaps buy some study equipment like a computer or whatever, and suddenly that $5K can be well north of $50K.

This isn't stock index tracker stuff, this is home economics.

My only guess would be education.

I'm still making the poor choice. I had kids, started raising them in a small town and missed the boat on going out west or wherever to follow they money. About $60k is average software developer pay around here.

I finally break 6 figures and my kids are almost graduated into college. If I left them behind after the divorce I could literally blank check pay for their college.

But I'm deciding to be their dad instead of chasing the money. But 3 more yesterday the last one graduates and I'm ready to go do machine learning and all the fun stuff. So. Sick. Of. Web sites.

I would recommend you let your family be. There earlier stuff in your career was health problems you said and people come first. The houses you talk about now are like gifts. They don't have immediate need so you can get them something better in the future.

And just how hard is it to reach your level btw? I've been programming twenty years... Is it hard to get a job after 40?

Don't think 'if I didn't spend 30k on my family I'd be making six average adult wages more per year' is very common or very realistic to expect.

And if you are making huge amounts of money it's completely reasonable and rational to spend it to actually increase happiness and opportunities, given that one cares about people around them.

In a way, it's easier to support parents in a poor country because everything is cheaper there. Give them $1000/month and they will probably live better than you.

People misjudge entirely the cost of working.

Getting that job in that major metropolitan area and actually going to work every day in that job carries such incredible direct and indirect costs, by the end of the year it’s typical for most people to be worse off than when they started.

This is to say nothing of the opportunity cost of all that time.

Then finally, if you are willing to factor in the societal/cultural pressures that come with the job and the massive costs associated with fulfilling them, as supposed to just calling that weakness on the persons behalf for succumbing to those myriad pressures... well, as you alluded, the tail is most certainly wagging the dog.

"It takes a village" has really bitten for me, I've seen just how bad it is without. Moving to the Bay Area, far away from any parental help, seemed so great when I was 25. Now I have children that I am raising without family help, while trying to do well in my own career, can just be totally emotionally crushing sometimes.

I'm deep in that too, right now. My partner badly wanted one last kid, and knowing we were already resource-tight and having no family around, I was very hesitant. Logistically I knew it would be a disaster but I agreed to it. I love the hell out of this kid, but "totally emotionally crushing" is apt. I'm not new to this, but I can only do so much. Working my job, being a stay at home dad, and having to maintain our relationship (plus my relationship with my son and adopted son) is genuinely outside of my ability. But it's what we have to do here. Expensive city, no connections, 3 kids.

I know it's stupid to go into it knowing it'll be hard, and I can't complain. I'm not. This is just what it takes, and I went into it knowing it would be temporary. Kids get a lot easier as they get older.

A lot of things that are worth it in life take a lot of work. I'll feel better in a few years. At the moment I feel like I'm dying.

At any rate, here's to things getting easier. I'm sure our hard work will pay off soon enough.

It's the relationship with the significant other that suffers the most IMHO, and I think most people ignore that bit. You can just about find hours in the day to work a job and get the kids fed and to bed, but then you have < 1 hr before you have to go to bed and do it all again tomorrow.

It feels like mine is on pause until the kids grow old enough to be left to their own devices, taking their own baths, brushing their own teeth, reading their own bedtime stories etc etc.

> 1 hr before you have to go to bed and do it all again tomorrow

This is very real. Sometimes I sit to do some more work before bed and think wow, I'll finish this... Go to bed... And wake up as early as I can to work some more. Then my son will wake up, and I'll be with him until 6 or so in the evening. While he naps I work more. Rinse and repeat. It's a gauntlet.

Things being on pause isn't really a bad thing at all, but it certainly feels bad in the moment. I have two 9 year olds though, and it's true. Eventually they want to read before bed on their own, they want to play on their own during the day, and the pressure is off. There's a lot more time.

I also have the luxury that on weekends, during the day my older kids will play with the baby and give me a bit of a break. Sometimes even for an hour or so. It's usually an opportunity to catch up on work, but it's often badly needed and a big relief.

>> I know it's stupid to go into it knowing it'll be hard,

It would be stupid going into it thinking it would not be hard. Raising kids is always hard, unless you don't care. And it is always hard in different ways. Kids can see what you can do, and what you can't do; what you can provide and what you can't provide. And as long as you are really trying they will ultimately accept what you have to offer with love.

Thanks, it's nice to be reminded of these things. I try to remind myself partially to ease my mind, but also to take a moment to appreciate how (perhaps subconsciously) grateful kids really are, as you mention. They do accept us (sometimes to my surprise) and they are loving in return. It's part of the 'glue' at times, holding together the structure amongst the chaos a bit. We all do our part. Kids are good people though, regardless of the daily grind.

Children bring happiness, but their costs suppress the effects if one doesn't make "enough":

* https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2019/02/cost-rais...

On top of that, here you can feel like you are working hard day in and day out, and you meet someone just like you, working just as hard, but they have $5M in stock because they worked for the right company at the right time.

On the other hand, I knew a guy who turned down a job in the Bay Area for family reasons who eventually worked out that the stock he was offered was worth ~$300 million at the peak of the .com bubble.

He was very philosophical about it :-)

To be fair, though, how many people were lucky enough to get out right at the peak of the bubble?

The more likely scenario is you've invested in that relocation, paying the financial and social costs, and then suddenly it's 2001 and you have no job, no stock, and no community to fall back on. So yeah, a philosophical view is probably wise. :)

Mark Cuban.

Well, my wife and I always say that when it came to tech companies, we were "lucky but not that lucky." I worked for one startup whose IPO was filed the day before the bubble burst, and after that had a job offer from pre-IPO Google that I turned down because I figured the stock would be lower than my strike price by the time I could exercise. Oops.

Has anyone worked on creating a 'village' in the bay? Is there any thing like a network where people can watch each other's kids, or take them to activities, to take any pressure off? Like to be a member, you would of course need to have a kid, but instead of payment it's basically a time bartering system. I imagine the kids would benefit from interacting with other kids. I'm sure liability would be a nightmare, but perhaps it could be informal. I myself suffer from this as I have 6 kids, and am thinking about a move to the bay area.

You get this through informal channels - basically this is just a group of friends where someone offers to babysit the kids free-of-charge one day when their friend really needs it, and then the friend reciprocates, and they each bring in a few more friends that they know are trustworthy, and so on. I'd imagine thousands of such groups of friends exist (I suspect this is the primary form of support in many immigrant communities), but you wouldn't really hear about them, because it's all word-of-mouth through social connections. My wife and I have certainly done this for our friends, though, and it's come back to us.

For more institutionalized settings, there's co-op daycares, but we looked into this and they're largely incompatible with having two working parents since the schedule usually requires volunteering in the middle of the workday.

This is very hard to pull off, IME. Even when you have a group of friend who all have children (as opposed to 'we all have children who are friends, so now we are de factor friends') it takes a lot of coordination to keep something like that up. And then someone gets sick and days have to be switched and everyone gets grumpy, or someone's mother moves to the area and now doesn't want to be part of the 'informal daycare' group any more (leading to resentment, because the others are left hanging), etc.

So the problem is a bit of a prisoners dilemma: you need to be able to rely on this group (having to scramble to find another solution is OK a few times a year, but not 3 times a month), but you also don't want to be 'tied down'.

So the alternative is to have lots of rules and required 'volunteering'. Which basically turns into the same as 'real' daycare, except that you have to take the day off to do your 'volunteering' (in the case of 2 working parents). So it's just scrambling to solve all the problems that money is supposed to solve (be a fungible store of value), but while at all costs keeping 'money' out of it.

Having been involved with attempts at systems like this, and having observed the problems in a few others, I no longer think it's feasible, at least not for dual income career oriented people. The places where I've seen it (more or less - it wouldn't work as a lifestyle for me) work are of the type of the mommy group of stay-at-home-parents, but those are hardly comparable to real daycare.

Such villages exist, but honestly probably won't work if you have 6 kids. Every adult who can work works in the Bay Area to get by so there is very little slack time in the system to barter with each other.

What little there is can usually be extended to 1 or maybe 2 kids. We routinely have 4 kids at our house (2 ours), but nobody will be able or want to manage more than that, and not very frequently. Even that sort of arrangement only happens via trusting friendships that are built over time. Distributing the load across multiple arrangements would be logistically daunting.

Perhaps a religious or cultural group would extend their resources in this way, but you would have to belong to those groups, and even there, nothing is free.

And one more thing: any place in the Bay area where you can find a house large enough to comfortably house 6 kids in a relatively safe area is going to be unbelievably expensive. I'd you live in such an area your neighbors will either have many fewer children or be wealthy enough that they hire full time childcare, so they won't have the same needs for village style arrangements as you.

I'm not so keen on the description here, but at the same time it's impossible to deny that there are people who take advantage of the good of society while simultaneously decrying it.

If we want to talk about moochers and deadbeats we need to stop looking at people in poverty who behave in ways we don't like. It's easy to call them names, but they're doing the best they can with the very little they have.

Shift the perspective to huge corps like Walmart, who rake in billions and themselves depend on state welfare to do so.

In the UK we call these people 'benefit scroungers', yet their impact on the British way of life is practically zero compared to what those with money can do, to the point where it's a false problem.

Yeah, I was going to say, my grandmother took care of me & my sister while my parents, in their 30s, were at work, or if they needed a night out. This was in the 80s, so it's not anything "new" to 30-somethings.

One of the new things with grandparents today is divorces.

Because all of my child’s grandparents are divorced they are not able to retire / and have to work. This prevents them from being able to offer the same kind of child raising assistance as grandparents that stay together.

Same here, my grandmothers and great aunt raised me when my parents had to work. In the late 80s...it’s not uncommon, especially in immigrant families. It is seen as a good thing, not something to be ashamed about.

There's some really good work out there by people looking at how to think about and value these things. I particularly enjoyed these two titles:



The first one is (fittingly) available for free online, though my local library also had a copy: http://sacred-economics.com/read-online/

So I just shouldn't bother having kids if I don't live in the same city as my parents?

That's great. Awesome society.

You can do it, but it will just be a lot harder to do.

Personally I decided to stay in the Midwest and make 170k instead of 300k, but I have my family, and family matters more to me than an extra 130k in salary.

This is why we need more remote work! People need to be able to live where they need (or want) to live for a plethora of reasons ... brains are just as good in the midwest, or in the south, as they are on the coast.

It's a data point you should consider, particularly if baby sitting, nannies, etc. are very expensive in your area.

People underestimate how much help one needs in raising kids because a few decades ago the mom would either not work or work an easier/part time job. This still happens in rural or semi rural areas in the US.

Nowadays in the city both parents are in 8-9 hour day high intensity jobs. You may have time for your kid, but you have less energy.

Inter-generational child rearing is an old tradition, but in recent US history wasn't it the case that your parents help you less but also ask less of you (think retirement homes).

Maybe the trend of adults relying more on their parents is only a failure if adults aren't expected to take care of their parents later on.

> it's more millenials are reaching the age where they understand the whole "it takes a village" folk wisdom

Boy, if it takes until your 30s to understand that "wisdom", then I weep for my contemporaries. In strong nuclear families with inter-generational ties, it shouldn't take longer than your late teens to realize that parental support is normal at least until you have kids of your own.

Having strong ties to your grandparents and parents should be the norm, and I'm very sorry for the Americans that haven't had the peace of mind from having a safety net of their extended families throughout their whole lives. This isn't meant to sound patronizing. Child rearing is one of the most labor intensive activities we have as a species and I for one will be taking all the help I can get.

Well....my mom and grandparents are dead and my dad is worse off financially than me so...not sure what options I really have when it comes to that.

I am in exact same boat as you, it's pretty common I think despite what people are saying here.


> That parent comment is amazing in it’s own sense: how delusional do you have to be to think that what you have there is the norm?

It is the norm. Not having multi-generational family support is a major handicap, but that predicament is not the norm, even among less advantaged people generally.

I know my situation is not the norm and personal experience isn't the best indicator, but I personally know more people with incomplete families and no multi-generational support than those that do. This has also only increased as i've gotten older. Whether it's through death, divorce or distance, estrangement.

I realize my original comment probably doesn't speak for the majority of people's situations, but I think it's not necessarily as much of a norm as people think. I don't disagree with the parent poster, they're right, it should be the norm, I was raised in a family with strong family values but circumstances just kind of made it an impossibility and I think a lot of people and families out there, may not have the same circumstances as my life, but have had things happen that make it difficult or impossible to have close family ties.

> This isn't meant to sound patronizing

How is it meant to sound? Talking about weeping for your contemporaries.

I was born in NYC to Haitian immigrants, if you didn't know Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. I grew up in a neighborhood with a lot of West Indian first generation children, a common theme for us was that we were "tougher" than the white kids who grew up in NYC because they lived easy lives. It was typical short sighted thinking that young kids do.

I wonder what that kid would say now after reading this article. A lot of the people I grew up with went to crappy colleges. I did too, and we were too broke to even think about tuition so PELL grants funded my education. College Textbooks? You mean PDFs from The Pirate Bay.

I made it out and got a nice job in tech, but like many of my peers it is I who support my parents. I pay their health insurance, I lend them money for groceries, and I'm financing my dad's chemotherapy. Do you know how hard it is to save up for a house (on the west coast !!) knowing you'll never get a windfall from Mom and Dad? When in fact they are a liability budget wise?

I wish more articles were written about this side of the coin, it is my experience that many young people, especially minorities, are shouldering the burden of "elder care" earlier than they ever thought they would.

I strongly agree with this and relate as someone who makes a very good living as a computer programmer but has received nearly no financial assistance from parents (a few thousands dollars for college tuition but not all of it covered) who do not have much in liquid assets.

The parent comment highlights is an important divide that's exacerbating the wealth gap in the USA: The difference between millennials whose Gen X parents are a financial liability versus a financial advantage.

The Gen X'ers are either passing onto their kids either hundreds of thousands in investment and savings income, or tens of thousands in medical and elderly care liabilities. Few in my "millennial" generation are talking about it, but as their parents get older, the contrast is getting more noticeable among friends who have to deal with very different parental situations. It's dangerously perpetuating "wealth gaps" across generations. I fear it will not end well for society when more debt-laden adults see others who are coasting off of what their parents' gave them.

Yes, this is income inequality, generational wealth, and the racial wealth gap all rolled into one.

The worst thing about it is that I've completely reoriented my free time to prepare for interviews so that I can double my salary -- that will hopefully give me enough breathing room to accelerate my savings to buy a home and pass on wealth to my children. The game is the game...

> this is income inequality, generational wealth, and the racial wealth gap all rolled into one.

To put that disparity into specific financial terms.

According to the Federal Reserve, the average white US household crossed the $1 million net worth line sometime in the past two years with the climb by the stock market and property values. Emphasis that that is the average, the median is closer to $190k-$210k, which is comparable to some of the wealthiest median household wealth nations such as Belgium, Australia and Switzerland.

The median white household wealth figure is only surpassed by the median asian household figure (asian households still trail white households on the average figure; due to a difference in duration of time to accumulate larger generational wealth).

The average black US household has an average net worth of about $150k for 2018, and a median of about ~$20,000. The Fed's figure is generally that black US households have less than 15% the wealth of white and asian households.

The average hispanic US household has an average net worth of about $200k for 2018, and a median of about ~$22,000.

Of note, as you'd expect there's an enormous difference in all households when it comes to education and wealth attainment. The average white household net wealth figure hits about $2 million where the lead earner has a bachelor's degree or higher; without that education level, the average wealth figure for white households is about 20% that (roughly $400k). In black households, a stark example of the importance of education attainment is that the median wealth figure increases by seven fold in households where the prime earner/s have a bachelor's degree or higher. In hispanic households with a bachelor's degree or higher, the average household wealth figure is around $650k (a great figure for most any wealthy nation). That hispanic demographic saw about a 60% (!) increase in their net worth between 2013 and 2019. Every way you look at the education vs wealth figures it puts an emphasis on the huge gap in wealth between households with more education vs less.

Besides the giant budget deficit problem, I don't see any scenario where taxes (on capital gains, income and estates) on the top ~10% don't go up a lot over the next 10-15 years or so. The largest lever the government is perceived to have to go after wealth disparity is aggressive wealth redistribution through taxes.

You of course also see this gap in other nations like France and the UK (which have some of the highest median household wealth levels), where they have very poor minorities with high unemployment rates and little personal or household wealth.

Social cohesiveness obviously falters in situations where you have such wealth disparities over time. That's particularly true if you have the triple hit of little economic growth, aging demographics and ever rising social demands (an increasingly common scenario in developed nations today).

I personally think this reality will make social democrats mainstream in no time (speaking of US). Especially with people like AOC stating the position so eloquently.

Indeed. Either they will take over the Democratic Party or they’ll form a third and leave the old one to rot.

Since there are probably thousands of DB tables with dem and republican hardcoded, my money is on take over.

> Especially with people like AOC stating the position so eloquently.

You mean the person who was 1 at the time Bernie Sanders, having already been involved in the 60s Civil Rights movement and mayor of Burlington for 3 terms, was first elected to the US Congress?

>I made it out and got a nice job in tech, but like many of my peers it is I who support my parents. I pay their health insurance, I lend them money for groceries, and I'm financing my dad's chemotherapy. Do you know how hard it is to save up for a house (on the west coast !!) knowing you'll never get a windfall from Mom and Dad? When in fact they are a liability budget wise?

I can only imagine how difficult that is. This is an interesting distinction between western and eastern culture too. I wonder if the obligation to take care of your parents is less pronounced in eastern households that are wealthier.

It's the opposite. The obligation to take care of your parents is definitely more pronounced in eastern households. See filial piety [1]. I'm Chinese and grew up in both Asia and the US. First of all, wealthy Chinese is a pretty small minority, so most working 20-somethings and 30-somethings are paying a portion of their paychecks to parents to support them. For those lucky enough to come from wealthy families, most are still expected to care for them in other non-monetary ways. For example in America many Chinese immigrants of the older generation can't drive; taking time off your work and taking your parents to their doctor's appointments is often a responsibility you have. (which of course means you can't live far away from them; there's going to be more and more work caring for them as they grow older.)

Like GP, I also grew up in a lower income family and made it out well in tech. My only advantage is that I'm older and started working 15 years ago, which lead to being able to afford to buy a house during the lowest years of the housing market (2010-12) so I have a really low mortgage in crazy bay area. I don't know how anyone in the bay would be able to save up for a house if they have to support their parents in addition to paying their own rent.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filial_piety

The question was about wealthier eastern households, not western versus eastern. I too wonder about the differences between richer and poorer eastern households.

What comes to mind is the stories about "parachute kids" with (relatively) wealthy parents that sent the kid abroad, ostensibly for study. They end up in an extreme form of latchkey existence - still Eastern in intent, but living largely alone and with few obligations, they tend to be adrift at a much earlier stage of life, leading to occasional news stories about crimes that earn prison time, or of "little emperors and empresses" that have been spoiled and have difficulty adjusting to interaction with the rest of the world.

The film "Better Luck Tomorrow" explored this - not specifically the parachute kid status, but the trouble that overprivileged Asian teens get into. It's fictionalized but also based on some real events.

> I wonder if the obligation to take care of your parents is less pronounced in eastern households that are wealthier.

For East Asian families, it's still there but it is non-existent from a financial perspective. It's no different from the article even though it describes the US. I've personally seen several scenarios of approx 30 individual families:

1. Kids were either extremely spoiled so they ended up with a poor work ethic, were incompetent, or both. They are not millennials. Parents ended up supporting them for the rest of their lives. Their wealth eventually consumed in one generation with their businesses either being sold or destroyed. In all these cases, the parents were content with grandchildren.

2. Kids were high achievers. Stereotypical scenario of getting into the Ivys or international equivalent, with the right finance, law, or engineering jobs right after with continued progression. Parents still gave a lot of financial gifts even though they weren't needed.

The only real expectation when the parents are financially well off is that their children still take care of them when old age becomes an issue i.e. no nursing home. parents will live with one of their children until they die

I don't believe so. There are 2 cultural differences I've noticed as a son to immigrant parents in the US.

1) My parents primary goal was to make life better for their kids. It was in a nutshell why they immigrated in the first place - not to improve their own lives. 2) It's the responsibility of the kids to care for their parents. The idea of nursing homes is so foreign and repulsive to my parents (and myself for that matter).

This is a generalization but, from my experience, that's baked into eastern culture across classes.

So I disagree about the distinction, I have many Indian and Chinese friends who have no obligation to take care of their parents (admittedly from middle class backgrounds). And then I have two good friends who are American of long ago European descent who definitely help their parents out with the bills extensively.

To answer your question though, I've seen it as common in both eastern and western families of means to not be expected to take care of your parents as much.

Heh, my reply is essentially the opposite of yours.

Your comment at the end made me think of a story I read a while back.


While the story doesn't mention an "obligation" of the elder generation's children, I think it brings out a very interesting point. Unlike the US/ Western Europe, in Russia, and likely other previously-Soviet countries, there isn't a noticeable divide between those with rich parents and those without. No one has rich parents.

Strongly agree with this. I live in Europe, my tuition was free, and the paradigms are hugely different to the US, with things like: free health care, and such.

And still, the article reads to me like "upper middle class kids have it so hard today because they can't get as rich as their parents too easily".

The economic shift is real, but the wealth of our MIDDLE CLASS parent generation was an oddity in itself, not comparable to the reality of most people now OR then.

In addition to your observation, the tone of this article suggests that young people have some right to live in Manhattan or to own a $400K condo by the beach in San Diego. I'm a millenial, and I'm not aware of such an attitude among my parent's generation. It seems perhaps my generation has greater expectations than our parents' while also having worse economic circumstances. Even still, $100K household income is an affordable middleclass lifestyle outside of the downtown area of major metros.

> Do you know how hard it is to save up for a house (on the west coast !!) knowing you'll never get a windfall from Mom and Dad?

Pardon the naive question, but what sort of windfall from Mom and Dad to people expect when saving up for a house? Is it common on the coasts for parents to help their children buy a house? I've never thought to plan for help from my parents for anything (I'll be happy if they can cover their own care).

I didn't have any expectations but from anecdotal sampling of homebuyers over the past 20 years in the Bay Area there are lots of parents helping with the down payment, maybe sampling bias but it seem like it's mentioned in most local news articles about the home buying market.

Didn't mean to imply a doubt; I just hadn't heard of this before. In my part of the midwest, you were lucky if your parents could help out with college.

My parents gave each of us kids $10K to help us buy our first house. That’s not a ton, but it’s way better than nothing and that was after helping us graduate from respected colleges with manageable student loan debt and giving us (very) low five-figure gifts to help retire the student loans after graduation.

That’s a ton for lots of families. My family couldn’t afford to help with my education, retirement, or home ownership. Even still, I have more expendable income than I ever dreamt, and I can even give a decent amount away. This is why this article seems really out-of-touch to me—it you’re making six figures and struggling I think you just need to discipline and a budget. Who really needs a $400K house on a San Diego beach? Fantastic that her parents helped her out, but that’s a really out-of-touch definition of “struggling”.

It is common for first time home buyers to get a significant portion(if not all) of their first deposit for their mortgage(often 20%) from either family assistance or inheritance. This is especially common in the more expensive housing markets in the US.

Common? 20%? You are in a rich kid bubble my friend

I’m not convinced this is biased. The GP says it’s common (in whatever market they are in) for house buyers to get help with a down payment (up to 20%) from parents, not that it is common for people to be offered that help from their parents. One could suppose that those people who don’t get help are less likely to be homebuyers and so aren’t included in GP’s anecdote.

Is that true? The last article I read about millennial homebuyers is that the reason outstanding mortgage balances are increasing is because more millennials are putting down less than 20% because they couldn't otherwise afford to.

From anecdotal data, yes - very true. I think you're seeing a wider spread than before. People who are trying to get homes with less % down than before and people who are using their parents' money. An article I read (that used anecdotal data from real estate agents) was suggesting that around 35% of new home buyers in SF Bay are getting partial to full down payment from parents.

Anyone in my social circle who bought their first home (anywhere on the west coast) and is in their 20's or 30's, they didn't do it by themselves. Their parents chipped in quite a bit.

In a homeowner and the vast majority of my peers are too. I know -ZERO- people who had this sort of financial assistance for a down payment. We all saved up our own money.

I live on the east coast though.

Well shit. I'll be right back; I have to call my parents.

Agreed. I'm in a similar situation (working in tech in the bay area and supporting my mom by covering her financial needs). I have two colleagues also in similar situations. It makes me wonder how many others in my peer group are faced with these same challenges..

Just a reminded that the other side of the coin is not 2nd generation immigrants only but also 1st generation who might be even more burdened.

What the article doesnt mention is college debt. I know tons of people who have college debt for degrees that pay absolutely nothing. Its debt they will never escape, and im guessing mom and dad feel guilty about it to some extent.

I came from a poor family, so college wasnt much of an option. My mom and dad had lived their whole lives under check cashing shysters and credit card debt until dad hurt his back and went on disability/heroin. Mom did the best she could at the local truckstop diner where i spent most of my time after school. College was never an option and looking back im glad it wasnt.

I grew up to become a damn good diesel engine tech. not the best, but i walk out of the shop every day feeling like I actually did something meaningful. Some days im even making cut-rate lawyer money. but I see college kids at my local bar, partly because thats an aesthetic for college kids my age, but also because its a necessity. They buy a round of el-cheapo beers and sit in the corner on their phones for an hour. They rarely tip or if they do its some weird math that comes out to screw over the barman, but its hardly their fault.

I bought a Sam Adams for one of these guys who was fired from mcdonalds for showing up to work late just once. He had a masters degree in business management. He came home to see his prius getting repossessed, and decided to just decided to keep on walking past his apartment and down to the local watering hole. His plan was to ride out an eviction and move back in with his folks.

They definitely mention it!

"Those who do not have parental assistance in their 30s, however, continue to be at a disadvantage. “They are grappling with paying off student-loan debt, their savings might not be as strong because of that, and many are taking care of other family members,” said Iimay Ho, 32, the executive director at Resource Generation, an organization that works with people ages 18 to 35 with wealth or class privilege to engage on issues of inequality."


"For those without parental cash at the ready, there’s often some kind of debt hangover that holds them back in significant ways. Roger Quesada, 34, calls his $65,000 of student-loan debt to Sallie Mae, which incurs $400 a month in interest payments alone, “a jail sentence.” A lapse in his payments ruined his credit, he said, and has hampered his financial and career aspirations."

And I feel for it, too. Compounding debt instead of compounding interest. Reminds me of a very relevant Onion headline:

"Lazy Poor Person Has Never Earned Passive Income From Stock Dividends A Day In His Life"


I wish more conversations around student loan debt discussed the outcome difference by major. The income gulf between an engineer and a lit major is massive. The conversation focuses on how bad the economy was when we graduated, but I suspect outcomes would be wildly different if people majored in STEM or business and instead minored in feminist dance theory or French poetry or whatever their passion may have been.

And here is the catch, some of these low-paying studies are also important for society. Culture has a place and a PhD in Contemporary Classical music has its worth in society.

Education is one of the best returns of investment of taxes a society can make to itself, I don't understand how people want to make this into a free market, it doesn't seem to work.

> Compounding debt instead of compounding interest.

I’ve not seen this distinction made before. Can you elaborate?

I think they just meant debts you owe compounding versus debts owed to you compounding (as in savings accounts or treasuries).

Oh, right, I see. Thanks :)

I'm terrible at checking my threads, but yeah! That's what I meant :)

This is pretty spot-on for me at the moment. Low-mid 30's and I sort of have a "choice" to borrow from my parents to get me by (which would actually be saddling them with more debt - however they are FAR better equipped to deal with it). I'm taking a good hard look at declaring bankruptcy this week as an attempt to break out. It would be less heartbreaking than continuing the feelings of fealty.

I wonder if going bankrupt now (prior to a recession) is a good strategy because it means you will emerge from it sooner than the bulge of others who become bankrupt after the recession. Serious point...

That is a viable option for many types of debt, but some forms of student debt cannot be discharged under bankrtupcty[1]. There is no easy answer here, because the immediate first-order reaction to questions about blanket student loan forgiveness is the inevitable moral hazard angle.

[1] https://qz.com/1367412/1-5-trillion-of-us-student-loan-debt-...

What makes you so sure a recession is coming?

Recessions always come. Timing is of course impossible to predict.


Your comment seemed to imply a recession incoming sooner than later and was wondering if you had a source.

> savings might not be as strong because of that,

Is incredibly tone deaf way to describe people living paycheck to paycheck.

Paying off loans doesn't also mean you are also living paycheck-to-paycheck. Even if so, this article is well researched and has sparked good discussion - accusing the author of being tone deaf, with no other contribution or criticism is not very nice.

That seems like a non sequiter. Plenty of people are still paying off student loan debt but hardly living paycheck to paycheck, myself included.

The article, by contrast, has it exactly right. I, for example, have a savings "maximum" that I've identified (for savings other than the ones with significant tax advantages, like IRA contributions), such that whenever I exceed it, that surplus goes towards more quickly paying off student loan debt. So, indeed, while I'm not living paycheck to paycheck, my savings also are not as strong as they would otherwise be.

This lateness thing doesn't get enough play. At a salaried level, people are just late all the time, late to work, late to meetings, working from home, leaving early, whatever. If you try any of that on an hourly gig, you get fired immediately (or worse, you're in some byzantine PIP system). Being late doesn't mean you're lazy, it means you forgot your phone or forgot to water your plants. It matters in almost no jobs. We need to come off it a little.

Part of that is from an oversupply of no (or very low) skilled labor. When people are desperate for "jobs" you can afford to be extremely strict and remorseless as an employer. I think this why past generations promoted things like unions and various workers' rights so strongly.

I think the bigger part is the type of jobs. In a career job, you work on your projects at whatever rate you work, so if you come in a little late it only really bites your free time.

If you came in late at a restaurant or hospital, they'd be short staffed and screwed.

If I am 15 mins "late" to work nothing happens. I will not even get less work done that day. People might not even notice.

I worked at Target in the fast food restaurant some years ago. If I was late to that, there was simply no one to take orders. It directly impacts the income of the business.

Late once -> fired definitely needs to be fixed, though.

That's a problem of Target's to deal with.

They're saving money by treating humans as perfectly interchangeable cogs.

This is why you have backup staff and don't drive people to the point of maximal efficiency. Because it's inhuman.

But there’s a feedback loop somewhere. Hiring backup staff means there is less to go around which quite possibly means a reduction or stagnation in wages depending on the particulars of the economic system. I wish more of the criticism directed at corporations at least acknowledged this reality—instead it comes off as “well just print more money, duh!”

I'd be more sympathetic if these types of economy of scale savings led to higher quality of life for consumers or workers, but it only really leads to higher quality of life for shareholders. I wish more defense of corporations at least acknowledged this reality--it's not the case (in fact it's very rarely the case) that whatever is good for the company is good for everyone.

This is quite a claim. I can’t imagine an economic system in which investors captured 100% of value. The savings are definitely passed onto the consumers, otherwise the consumers wouldn’t have an incentive to choose this company over their competition. Economies of scale are probably the principal reason quality of life improved so dramatically across the board following the industrial revolution. This seems to prove that economies of scale benefit consumers and employees.

I'm not exactly claiming 100%, but it's close. Until the industrial revolution GDP was very close to flat. It has to be this way to explain why most people lived on subsistence farming for thousands of years: if GDP growth was even 1% we'd have space colonies.

The industrial revolution brought GDP growth, but to a very small number of people. The rest (practically everybody) were plunged into abject misery. This is where anarchism, marxism, communism, socialism, fascism, and so on came from. I mean, one of Henry Ford's famous innovations was paying his workers enough to afford the things they were building. It was a capitalist nightmare.

WWI and the Great Depression unbelievably made things worse, and they led to serious political upheaval throughout the western world. It was only when WWII wiped out the holdings of many of the wealthy that quality of life started to improve at all, and in fact that lead to one of the longest periods of growth and equality in human history. But it really had nothing to do with economies of scale. It had to do with the fact that incomes finally rivaled capital gains from wealth.

The essential difference between that period of expansion and the initial industrial revolution weren't economies of scale. It was that we had political systems that distributed the profits to more than just the business owners. If you don't have those kinds of systems (free markets, progressive taxation, financial regulation, open credit), then it doesn't really matter how efficient your production is, because the benefits are only going to .001% of people. If those people aren't sharing (not exactly something rich people are known for), then quality of life for everyone else won't go up at all. And hey look, that's what happened during the industrial revolution.

Source: basically just read Piketty.

A poor man will steal from a rich man because he has no food.

The individual player may not have a choice - that's why we attempt to influence the system such that these situations don't arise.

I’m not taking issue with influencing the system or any particular economic policy; I’m taking issue with arguments that don’t make basic economic sense. It’s one thing to identify an economic inefficiency in Walmart’s model that could be remedied by paying employees more; it’s quite a different thing to argue that Walmart should raise their wages without explaining where that money will come from.

> it’s quite a different thing to argue that Walmart should raise their wages without explaining where that money will come from

In FY2018, Walmart "generated $28.3 billion in operating cash flow and returned $14.4 billion to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases" [1]. The best study I can find [2] says a hike from $10/hr. to $15/hr. would cost around $5 billion a year.

TL;DR: Walmart could pay workers $30/hr. The money comes from there.

[1]: https://news.walmart.com/2018/02/20/walmart-us-q4-comps1-gre...

[2]: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-walmart-wages-idUSKCN0YW2...

At salaried level people aren't doing things that have hard time constraints. when you are delivering pizzas or working as a cashier your punctuality matters a hell of a lot more, it doesn't take a genius to figure that out, which is why if you fuck up once you're fired, it was literally the one thing they told you not to fuck up.

Of course there are extenuating circumstances, and managers should be more relaxed with people who make an effort (e.g. texting ahead that they are running x minutes late). But the vast majority of cases are not like this. Its people making stupid choices and suffering the consequences, I don't have much sympathy for that.

Fair, but this really only matters if you're opening, or there's only one person who can do what you do. Like if there are 3 delivery drivers and one's late, pizzas are still getting delivered. I appreciate short staffing and whatever, but someone getting a pizza 15 minutes late isn't an excuse to fire someone, a decision that can have drastic impacts on their health, savings, family, etc. Chronic lateness sure, as long as it's a real job requirement (and by real I mean things go real sideways, lines get long, trucks pile up, whatever, not someone has to wait 15 minutes), but definitely not zero tolerance.

The lengths you have to go to to avoid being late essentially boil down to "always leave 30 minutes before you have to". That's a huge, completely unpaid time sink. If I got "paid" an extra 30 minutes a day, I'd make $10k more a year. And sure hourly workers don't (usually) make as much as I do so their increase would be something like $3k, but that increase probably matters a lot more to them than it would to me.

not sure what you're getting downvoted for. when you work in something like retail or food service it matters a lot if you're late. customers are either taking their money elsewhere or your already tired coworkers from the first shift are staying late to cover for you.

An aside question—

As a high level guess it sounds like you probably didn't grow up in or too near a major city (if truck stops are in play).

Are you still working where you're from? How did you come to find HN?

I know there's a large number of mechanics on here, and it makes complete sense. But I'm curious how all these roads meet, sometimes.

> Mary Wallace, a real estate agent... said that in 20 years she has rarely seen anyone in their 30s who did not have family help or an inheritance for their down payment.

This is the unwritten law of California first-time home ownership: you are waiting for your parents to downsize and cash in, or just to straight up die and inherit their house. You do not just get a job in CA and buy a home. The article also talks about the US in general, throwing around "six figures" as some indication of being financially safe. In CA, that is just not true.

I would not have a home without significant assistance from my parents. I can't imagine how it would be if I was saddled with large student loans as well (came from the UK where college education was cheaper) or had a job where the health insurance could leave me one bad situation away from bankruptcy.

Even if wealth distribution is possible, it comes with its own hurdles: early wealth distribution leads to questions about how elder care is going to get paid for, late wealth distribution leads to questions about how stunted the career and life development of the child is.

I think this is the new normal, and will be for generations past us, but I wonder what it will mean for G8 countries. I think step one is abandoning the idea that if you try hard you're going to live better than your parents. You might, you might not. It's not a given anymore.

A few years ago I had a few steady clients in DC and so I kept an apartment there. The wife and kids would fly up for a few weeks at a time and enjoy the city. The wife fell in love with DC and wanted to move so we started looking at houses. We met many of the families renting or selling the houses (normally you don't meet the owners when buying but whatever). We could not figure out how the owners were able to buy these homes based upon our estimation of their combined household income based upon their descriptions of their jobs and where they worked. After some time grappling with why we couldn't afford the homes and they could, a real estate agent told us "everyone here has help from their parents, everyone".

To be honest it really pisses me off because I feel like I'm crushing it in my business (blood, sweat & tears) but I can't buy a house in DC because I don't have wealthy parents.

There must be advantages that you had that others did not. My advice is to be happy for the advantages that you did have, and work hard to make it so that your children "have wealthy parents".

The idea that hard work leads to riches is ridiculous bullshit propagated by the rich who do no work and get rich off the hard work of others. It's beyond stupid, yet ingrained in our culture from the puritan days. It serves to keep people down while making them work for others' enrichment. We need to get rid of diseased thinking like this from our culture. Most rich people are rich because they were born into the upper class and many have never worked a day in their lives. Plenty of poor people and middle class people work really hard at their jobs with zero chance of becoming rich. Zero. Slackers abound in all classes. There is no correlation between hard work and good outcomes. That's just ridiculous. If there was, someone putting in hard work at McDonald's should be rich when they retire. The only rich thing about this is the joke played on people that believe this stupid puritan bullshit.

I think this is the new normal, and will be for generations past us, but I wonder what it will mean for G8 countries

I don't think you can generalize San Francisco to the entirety of the G8. Even in the US, it's not like that in many places.

Definitely not in the US, 6 figures is an upper middle class income.

Why is CA so expensive? Is it something intrinsic to the land (weather, natural features, etc.) or is it something more variable, like job & entertainment opportunity? If it's the latter (and I suspect it is), it is a solvable problem, at least for most G8 countries, since there is a lot of un(der)-developed areas out there.

I would not have a home without significant assistance from my parents.

I don't know your specific case, but on average, you could have bought a home without assistance if you wanted, just maybe not when & where you bought.

Because of Prop 13. http://projects.scpr.org/prop-13/stories/housing-shortage/ has a good write up.

Because land isn't taxed based on it's current value landowners have little incentive to develop their land in order to get the most out of it. They simply bank land as much as possible as it's the most surefire way to turn a profit. It's why we have golf courses* in city centers and dilapidated shacks* next to Google's global HQ.

Additionally, prop 13 gives landowners every incentive to lobby for policies that restrict development in order to drive up prices instead of fighting for the right to build 4 story apartments on their property.

Slashing property taxes always floods the market with speculators and destroys housing affordability. Look at Vancouver, or Malta, their housing shortages rival SF despite low wages and comparatively small economies.

* https://www.planetizen.com/node/93284/la-country-clubs-takin...

* https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/dec/15/google-ca...

It also forces individual home owners into a corner. Anecdotally, I have a friend who bought in the 90s for peanuts and now his house is easily worth more than a million dollars. He has specifically said something along the lines of "we would like to move to something that fits our family a little better, but it wouldn't be worth the tax bill."

That's nonsense, prices were ballooning in California before Prop 13, and was in response the great inflation in the 70s.

Property taxes do go up in California, just not at the speculative price increases due to tiny interest rates and investors.

If you want to find fault, blame interest rates and people paying the maximum monthly payment based on tiny interest rates, and ignoring the ridiculous house prices.

The nature of employment in the US has changed very rapidly in the past few decades. Agriculture and manufacturing jobs have evaporated, replaced by service jobs. Globalization means that any job that doesn't need to be performed inside the US will likely leave the US.

What this means is that in the past, there used to be forces that encouraged jobs to be somewhat evenly spread across the country. Most medium-sized cities had a number of factories, small towns were surrounded by farms, etc.

Now the only jobs are jobs that involve working with or for other people, so you see a rapid concentration in a smaller number of large metro areas.

Unfortunately, cities cannot physically adapt as quickly as the economy has changed. The rapid change in housing prices — upwards in metro areas and downwards elsewhere — is basically a measure of how much the physical infrastructure is out of sync with today's needs.

Personally, I hope we figure out a way reinvigorate and distribute jobs across medium-sized cities. It's very difficult for the poor any elderly to uproot, and the US has tons of space, so I think it's better for everyone if the jobs come to them instead of forcing them to come to the jobs.

> Globalization means that any job that doesn't need to be performed inside the US will likely leave the US.

Sounds like over-rationalization to me. Tech jobs don’t need to be done in the US for obscene amounts of money, yet they are.

> Tech jobs don’t need to be done in the US

In theory, yep. In practice, lots of software work is basically an exercise in interpersonal collaboration logistics for which physical colocation is still the most common approach. I've long been hopeful that we'd break out of that model and achieve the geographic redistribution that the parent commenter is hopeful for, but that it hasn't happened yet makes me think there is something more to it than it seems.

Many many aren't. One of the reasons I left EA was because half of my team was given the task of training a team of outsourced people to replace them.

Yes, there are still plenty of programming jobs in the US, in large part because a key part of the job is translating human requirements into code. That means that knowing the language and culture are valuable assets. Also, English is the lingua franca of software, which helps.

But a lot of them aren't anymore. I'd say 70% of my team is offshore. Before it became popular to offshore, they would have all been local. There's been many offices around me in the financial industry that have consolidated IT departments into much smaller local shops, closing offices here.

It's the jobs. You want to work at Google, you work in CA. You want to work in movies, you work in CA. There are various environmental factors (like the weather) and economic factors (like locking in property taxes when you buy) that keep people in their homes, stunting inventory.

Yeah, I _could_ buy a house somewhere else, just like I _could_ give up on a fulfilling career. But I don't think people are willing to spend the majority of their waking hours in a job they don't like so they can have a house, given the alternative of having a job they do and renting. Everything is a life choice, and home ownership is not be all and end all, but I think it seems very wrong that the dichotomy of career vs home-ownership is as harsh as it is.

It's not the jobs.

In New York you can get an apartment in Jackson Heights for $200k and take the F train to work.


In the Bay Area it's expensive near job centers but it's still expensive 40 miles away. The sprawling mess is too low density to sensibly cover with trains so people end up with insane highway commutes.

California's problem is property taxes. Tax people fairly - not based on the time they joined the class of property owners - and our problems go away.

It's the jobs. You want to work at Google, you work in CA. You want to work in movies, you work in CA.

This isn't true. I've known Googlers who worked in Ann Arbor, Pittsburgh and NYC. I've enjoyed many films made in Georgia. Places like NM, Georgia, Austin, etc. are enticing filming there because they know the industry can support more than just one hub in LA. Now filmmakers know they can work and play in Atlanta, Albuquerque or Austin, places cheaper than Hollywood. Places where you don't need family assistance for a down payment on a house. A Googler could do the same in Pittsburgh.

I think it seems very wrong that the dichotomy of career vs home-ownership is as harsh as it is

Is it? OK, I'll grant that it is if you have a singular mindset of "I must own a home right now and I can only have a fulfilling career bay area", but you aren't entitled to live and work in a specific place. And who cares? There's so much more to this world than that.

The examples you cite are exceptions, not the rule.

Most Google engineers still work in CA, and it's easier to get hired for a role at HQ because there are always openings for all kinds of positions. For the smaller offices, they might only be hiring infra or only hiring L6+, etc.

For movies, think about what you'd do as a young actor trying to get a major role. Would you live in Atlanta where a handful of films are shot every year, or would you live in LA where hundreds of opportunities come up every month?

Times change though for cost economics as an industry matures. I live in Atlanta and there are now more movies and TV shows filmed in the state of Georgia than in Los Angeles now. I keep seeing reports of people constantly moving to Georgia to work in the entertainment industry and several people I know have ties to the entertainment industry here as well. Almost all the Marvel movies are filmed downtown and in various locations throughout metro Atlanta. Every other Netflix series has been filmed in the area. There are tons of yellow signs pointing to movie and TV shooting locations throughout the city.

Entertainment is a lot more cost-sensitive to labor than most tech companies and while a lot of regulations on filming can be an issue on occasion I'm pretty sure that all of it is dwarfed by the sheer number of bodies necessary to film some scenes on a non-studio location.

During the Great Recession, movie stars kept their 8+ figure checks but almost everyone else took massive cuts. Similar economics happen in labor markets for tech where we are seeing a very clear bimodal distribution of pay for those in FAANGS companies (or very close to them) and those that aren't.

In my experience, a lot of people who live and reside in Los Angeles will take gigs in Georgia. Most people wouldn't actually live there minus their short stints to do the film they are involved in.

> But I don't think people are willing to spend the majority of their waking hours in a job they don't like so they can have a house, given the alternative of having a job they do and renting.

This is... not accurate.

IANAL or a real estate person, but my understanding is that it's a combination of the following:

1) Laws passed in the 1970s that lock in a home's tax value unless/until it's sold, meaning anyone who owned a home in the 70s will never, ever want to sell because their taxes will skyrocket from their fixed 70's values;

2) NIMBYs forbidding the construction of new housing, especially any high-density housing, meaning an area that's massively grown in population has not significantly grown in housing availability;

3) Tech companies insisting on building huge campuses here, attracting more and more people, who use their tech salaries to snap up the extremely limited housing, leading to tech companies needing to pay higher salaries to attract new employees, leading to those higher salaries being used to outbid others on houses, leading to tech companies needing to pay higher salaries...

When we rented our last house, the real estate agent handling the rental asked why we, a Bay Area-salaried DINK couple, weren't buying. We laughed, because the down payment alone on the house we were renting - a dinky, dingy two-bedroom from the 60s which hadn't been significantly upgraded or maintained since - would have been close to our combined yearly income, never mind the taxes and mortgage payments. And that was for one of the crappiest houses in the neighborhood, not one we'd actually consider buying.

It's a combination of the major metro areas (SF, LA, and SD) being boxed in by mountains, and of these areas supporting major globalized industries (tech, entertainment, and biotech/military, respectively) where per-employee revenue is high, productivity is high, and wages are correspondingly high. Fixed & limited housing supply + high incomes = very high house prices. Prop 13, as mentioned by other commenters, doesn't help.

Everybody outside of one of these industry hubs always says "Well, why don't major companies just move to areas with lower cost of living, where they can pay their employees less for the same work and be more competitive?" It's never that simple. Flip that comment around and ask an employee in a low-paying industry in a low-paying hub "Well, why don't you just learn data science, get a job at Google or Facebook, and move to the Bay Area so you can partake in these $300-400K/year salaries too?" You'll probably get a response that mentions some combination of family & community roots; it being hard to develop tech skills without mentors and teachers; not fitting in with the political & cultural views of people in Silicon Valley; and difficulty convincing employers that you do in fact possess those skills in the face of stereotypes to the contrary. Now multiply those difficulties by 50,000 employees and you see why corporations don't do this. Companies in knowledge industries are webs of highly-specialized human capital, each of which often has their own family & community roots in the local area and is reluctant to uproot their life just because their employer wants to save a few bucks by moving their headquarters elsewhere.

Because the Boomers forbid housing construction and put in prop 13 to shelter themselves from any tax increase as housing cost skyrocketed. They created this mess.

Definitely not the Boomers that did Prop 13. Prop 13 was passed in 1978, when the oldest boomers were 32 and the youngest 14. Not many owned houses then.

This was passed by voters of earlier generations. Look at the two leaders of the movement, Howard Jarvis (born 1903) and Paul Gann (born 1912).

Most Boomers were opposed to it b/c they could easily foresee the cuts to social services and education that were coming.

If zoning and construction were sane I think something like prop13 would be a good thing. Nobody should be forced out of a home they could otherwise afford just because the taxes went up.

There are more specific ways to deal with that issue besides prop 13 though, like homestead exemptions.

I was told to assume $350/square foot for new construction here in the East Bay by a design/build firm I contacted recently. So a typical 2000 sq. ft. home is $700K just for design, construction, and permits, plus $300K for land if you can find it. So it seems more like localized inflation to me. Architects and tradespeople need to pay to live here too. Plus requirements due to seismic and fire hazards, insulation requirements, etc. add to costs. Now solar panels will be required as well.

IMO prop 13 worked out really badly but it isn't the main cause of the problem, just one more giant expense for the new homeowner on top of everything else.

CA has expensive areas because Prop 13 means young people pay much higher property taxes than people who have owned forever and corporations pay practically nothing as long as they never rennovate. And you can't fix it without convincing people to vote to raise their own taxes, so we're basically screwed forever. Plus local control means communities can create jobs without building housing to support them, increasing emissions, clogging roads and forcing out everyone who wasn't already rich in the 90s.

Move literally anywhere else if you can.

It has desireable weather, beaches, mountains, deserts, forests, national parks, fresh produce, industries, higher education system, decent laws for worker protection, so it’s a pretty good piece of land.

It's not too complicated - most big cities in CA have simply not built enough housing to keep up with population growth.

Mass transit in/out of urban centers like SF/LA are very underdeveloped, so it makes it really difficult to live in a cheaper area outside of the city and bear the commute everyday.

cash purchases/wealth management have rushed in from around the globe to secure homes as an investment, meanwhile few want to leave, and huge, huge industry as started bringing highly paid young people. Similar story in the Seattle area..

Stupid laws don't help.

Not re-evaluating property values until sale.

NIMBY zoning laws everywhere.

To answer your first question: widespread opposition to housing/development across the political spectrum.

  This is the unwritten law of California first-time home ownership
That's a cop out. I bought my first home (2 br 2 ba condo) in Mountain View at age 25 with no assistance whatsoever, and at that point was still making well under 100K. I just prioritized accordingly.

To say that's the practice now is one thing, but 20 years ago? Hogwash... especially given the 2001 and 2009 drops.

Sounds nearly identical to my experience buying a home in Seattle

“I think millennials need to get past this narrative they’ve made it on their own and ‘I pulled myself up by my boot straps,’” Mr. Isaacs said. “It hides all the kinds of ways they have been privileged by their race or parental help.”

I started to fire a snarky comment about how nice it must be to fit into the category of millennial who have enjoyed the listed privileges, but instead I'll just adopt the position that I am not the "target demographic" here, and maybe that's why after reading that entire article, finding this remark as the closing statement caused me to involuntarily furrow a brow.

I've met a member of every class that's lied about "pulling themselves up by their bootstraps" (by the way, isn't that meant to be an ironic paradox?).

From the rich white male Boomer to an immigrant Chinese business owner, everyone seems to feel the need to make more of their struggle than it was. Like, it was already a struggle, why lie and make it seem more so? You started your business by working 12 hour days funded by the pennies in your pocket... And the 300k business loan someone was willing to give you on the basis of your bachelor's in business, which meant a hell of a lot in 1957. Or the classic "came into America on a boat with seven dollars in my pocket," not mentioning the family safety net back home or the fact that the 7$ was more like 7,000 and this was 1965.

But it's obvious why people do that, because people have been doing it for ten thousand years and it's nothing new. We like to feel important, and if our truth doesn't make us feel important we'll lie a bit until we feel important again.

So I'm tired of old people making flippant statements like above about millennials that are either completely off base or simply applicable to every human on the planet, for as long as we've been able to talk. Allow me to engage in my own psychological fallacy - I feel like with enough years under your belt, you should just know that's how we work.

I concur. What irks me the most is when the backstory contains unmentioned unethical elements.

I come across several people in business who all gave the "oh it was so hard in the beginning" while not mentioning their dark pattern websites (people unwittingly buying subscription), wolf-of-wall-street v1 of their broking business, or outright money laundering.

There needs to be a catchy phrase for the "I had it so hard" story.

4 Yorkshiremen (from the Monty Python sketch)


"Uphill both ways"

But it's the same thing in the other direction. Countless people claim that they've done their best and were just unlucky - or even that no one could have succeeded in their particular situation. Yet, I often encounter people not making efforts/decisions/sacrifices I consider basic. And they also discount all the help and good fortune they are getting.

Strictly speaking, both "I got no help" and "I've done my best" are hyperbole, delusion, or lies. Both are tiring and frustrating. They are also a fairly natural, though crude, way to direct a conversation: "I think you are making excuses" and "I think you are underestimating the challenges".

Could just be as simple as nobody wants to sound like their success was handed to them (evokes jealousy & bitterness) and so everyone is encouraged to embellish their struggles just a little, which in turn means everyone else has to embellish just a bit more so their actually-perfectly-ordinary experience doesn't sound too comparatively cushy.

There is funny (or would be funny if it was not so serious in the societal concequences) research by Paul Piff on this phenomenom:


There's no such thing as an adult emerging from the woods having learned everything themselves. Because of this, it's a major fallacy to expect it from people who have "pulled themselves up by their bootstraps" because you will find something about their background that refutes it.

Let's say, some people are more privileged than others.

I don't understand - you think it never happens? Or rarely does? I classify my family in that "rags to moderate riches" story, at least gradually over a couple generations. I'd say it's more common than not that people with money today did come from families without it a couple generations ago.

> "pulling themselves up by their bootstraps" (by the way, isn't that meant to be an ironic paradox?).

Cracks me up every time. It most certainly is.

The few people who I know have "pulled themselves up by the bootstraps" in the proverbial sense, almost never use such dismissive terminology.

That, along with "my teachers always said i wouldn't amount to anything." Seriously, I've been in some -rough- public schools with literal criminals, and never once heard a teacher come close to saying something like that.

On the last day of 6th grade public school, my teacher pulled me aside in his very final moment of power over me to say exactly this. He made it quite longwinded.

This wasn't a rough school - I was in a suburban gifted program.

It must be the middle of the road suburban public schools with gifted programs where this is a thing, because I (indirectly) heard the same thing at high school.

Lower-ghetto public school with a half functioning kitchen, got called "ugly" and told to sit outside by my 5th grade art teacher.

She continued working there for 6 more years before taking on a Director-role at the local community college, interestingly.

Joke was on her though, because my mother thinks I'm quite handsome heh.

/adds his card neatly to the anecdote pile

heh my friend had a HS teacher that stapled taco bell job applications to every F grade. that's pretty harsh.

It's also a weirdly broad generalization that I think shows an overly-simplified, almost naive way of seeing the world. As with any "X group with tens of millions of people," there are going to be people who actually do fit those criteria. e.g. How many ethnic or black millennials without parental help started from nothing and are now successful? I personally know of a couple at least.

For some reason, so many people seem to see "Millennials" as one gigantic person. It's similar to the odd occurrence of someone accusing HN of having conflicting opinions, ignoring the fact that HN is full of different people.

It's tiring how much the media and casual discourse treats "millennials" as one gigantic person, but then again generational cohorts are a planning tool because large numbers of them engage in similar activities around the same time. This greatly impacts markets, culture, and circles back around to influence lots of other aspects of life. It also leads to more pressure and (generally) fewer opportunities on those who have fallen behind.

As much as we deride or wish to discourage people from comparing themselves to others, falling behind (in terms of timing or attainment) compared to the median member of a cohort confers a disadvantage towards further progress that would follow the same formula. This is particularly and literally applicable to millennials: after all, the entire generation was told to follow a formula, where getting to college was the first step, and any further clarification of one's ambitions would be expected to materialize once that baseline was cleared.

Now that they're all firmly of working age, it's clear that following that formula blindly -- as if it were just one of those "this is how the world works" societal norms that everyone does, like brushing teeth or obeying stoplights -- was a mistake. But the message was fed by their elders, the same people who are now helping them out if they're able.

And if one had poor parents or hardly a shot at getting to college, what were they supposed to do? They came of age at a time when blue-collar work was precipitously falling, all the well-paying high-demand careers demanded years of education, and years of coddling and lack of substantive discourse about the middle class's economic realities have resulted in a generic, aspirational message like "follow your dreams". Higher education was positioned by public policy and combined wisdom as a tool of opportunity, how was one to know that predatory-sounding trade schools may have been a better bet? And if public policy drove young people towards those schools instead, would we now have tens of thousands of HVAC technicians and automotive mechanics and cybersecurity professionals working in food and retail?

They came of age at a time when blue-collar work was precipitously falling

Tangent: I wonder what we'll read in the history books 30 years from now about the shift in labor to becoming a globalized commodity in the era of the Internet, and how it affected economic groups poised best to take advantage of the changing era--compared to how the group equivalent of today's millennials fared during, say, the Industrial revolution as economies swiftly mechanized and labor responded by becoming more-increasingly specialized.

(Edit: and then I wonder, would the people writing such history in 30 years have been millennials today?)

It's almost like declaring everyone born roughly at the same time to be identical, is a desperate attempt to impose conceptual order on an illegible and chaotic universe! Or sumt'n!

Well SOMEBODY had a big bowl of Sartre Flakes™ this morning :P

No, jokes aside-I think that's just as valid and interesting of a response to that sort of a take as any. My generation is pretty vocal about the inherent value of the 'individual'; "we aren't a monolith" etc.

Maybe my knee jerk reaction to the quote above is just a manifestation of that, I'll own it for whatever it is.

Heh - first time I read that, I thought it was Satire Flakes... which also would've worked...

Sites that have voting, like HN and Reddit, will get judgement that because of what is up voted. There is of course lots of different people, but clear trends do start to appear and that is what people view and assign to be the overall opinion.

> For some reason, so many people seem to see "Millennials" as one gigantic person.

This happens everywhere, all the time. "Baby Boomers" are as often talked about as a group: "Muslims", "Hipsters", "Hacker News", "Liberals", "Conservatives".

Yeah but it makes a lot more sense in some contexts than others. Like, if you're talking about a religion or a political affiliation, membership in that group is defined by some common beliefs or values. (Obviously people routinely generalise too far and end up using lazy stereotypes, I'm not denying that.) It's a bit more obviously arbitrary to generalise about a generation, unless you're talking pretty narrowly about e.g. shared experiences they had by virtue of growing up at the same time.

I haven't received a dime from my parents since I was 16 (when I got my first job). Paid for college myself, paid off my debt myself, bought my first house myself, and have essentially done everything without their help since I was legally allowed to.

And the people that do need help (like my younger brother), what irks me is that he certainly does not think he pulled himself up from his bootstraps. He knows that he was dealt a bad hand and painfully acknowledges the help he's getting.

This comment from the article is incredibly myopic because either you did in fact bootstrap against harsh circumstances or you know you didn't because the recession has dealt you a tough hand. I think the outlier is the individual who think they did it themselves and really believes that (when they didn't).

privileged by their race

The only people I know who own homes, in the markets mentioned, wouldn't consider themselves white so I can't figure out what they're trying to say here.

I believe in the parlance of the youths today, it is a "weird flex".

- Read in the voice of Lt. Commander Data

i've only heard millennials whine about how they're the victim of every injustice ever committed. I don't think i've ever heard one say the pulled themselves up by their bootstraps.

The achievers are likely the quiet ones, precisely because they're a bit tired of articles like these telling them that they can't be proud of their success.

Are you saying you disagree with the statement?

I wanna know where this narrative that “[millenbnials] made it on their own and blah blah bootstraps.” The narrative I heard is “the boomers fcked the economy and left us with nothing but the remnants of their eventual estates.”

Millebnials? I presume that's a typo, but... I kinda like it. It's got a bit of a ring to it.

I tell ya, those millebnials...

In some ways, for some reasons, yes. For other reasons, and for some reasons, no.

This all rings true, but it doesn't have to make you feel like America is broken. I'm of South Asian descent, where finances between generations are even more intertwined. In America we've created a narrative of one generation being completely free of the last, and when we don't fulfill it we feel shame. Like many destructive narratives our society has, it might be time to let this one go.

"let go" the notion of individual freedom, and replace it with your parents having control via financing over your life for most of it. Yeah I'll pass. Alternative proposal - vote for parties who will reverse intergenerational inequality: reform the housing market, dispose of the (corporate and literal property) rentiers, introduce a wealth tax, equalise pensions (it's insane that one generation is going to get pensions and the next basically isn't).

"Let go of the idea that you can live as an independent human" have a word with yourself.

>Let go of the idea that you can live as an independent human" have a word with yourself.

I assume your family has a couple generations of America under their belt? If so, I'm not surprised you find the statement your op to taste bad. It's fundamentally opposed to the American value system (though as this article indicates, at odds with the reality of America today).

Are they wrong? If you had time to apply for colleges because you had housing in high school and didn't have to work all day to pay for food and housing, are you truly independent? If you didn't have to fetch your own water every morning and hunt your food? Maybe you think I'm taking the argument too far, but I see where they are coming from. True "freedom" is a bit of a myth, and shouldn't it be? Do you want to be the sole party responsible for ensuring your medicine isn't laced with arsenic?

In any case, other cultures have taken on the idea of familial responsibility and wealth to great success by their own measures. Just because it is different, doesn't mean it's bad.

I'm not even American, and for the record I got a couple of K a year at uni which I'd have survive without and never a dime since. Having to live under the control of your parents (which is fundamentally what happens when they hold the purse strings) past the age of 18-21 depending on taste is messed up. I know plenty of people from both camps and it's definitely bad for you to have your parents controlling your life past 21. It's different when you're younger, but even that is painful - at 15 I was ready to operate independently and my parents having some control over me until 18 probably messed up our relationship a lot. Not everything which is cultural is also arbitrary, as humanity advances we tend to promote individual freedom to the maximum extent we can support (and this is coming from a lefty). This isn't even bringing it how it will perpetuate class-systems, even for the beneficiaries I think it's incredibly harmful.

> couple of K a year at uni which I'd have survive without and never a dime since

And tuition ?

> your parents controlling your life past 21.

I think you have some kind of archaic idea of what parents supporting their child looks like. My parents let me pursue my dream (tbf conveniently it was in STEM) and funded my undergrad and masters. It cost them their life's savings, but it comes with an understanding that I will support my brother's education and we will support them in retirement.

I've been away from home for 8 years at this point, and I can't think of any major restriction on me, as a result of being financially dependent on my parents.

As a family, it is a win-win. My parents get a better retirement through me, both me and my brother can get educated debt free and if anything goes wrong, it would delay our plans but won't destroy us financially the way a $100k loan would. (my parents' annual income is ~12k)

> at 15 I was ready to operate independently

If you still believe that, you might have some maturing to do. Every person I've known at 15 has been too young to live independently without screwing themselves over in some way or form.


> individual freedom to the maximum extent

I have to ask. What are these things that you felt you couldn't do when you were financially dependent on your parents / living with them.

> I think you have some kind of archaic idea of what parents supporting their child looks like. My parents let me pursue my dream (tbf conveniently it was in STEM) and funded my undergrad and masters.

Your experience is not necessarily universal.

> I have to ask. What are these things that you felt you couldn't do when you were financially dependent on your parents / living with them.

I'm from East Texas and I know of many families back home that have a "our money, our roof, our rules" mindset. It's not uncommon for these parents to use the threat of "do what we say or we're pulling your support" to control them. For instance "We don't like your girlfriend, break up with her or we're cutting your support", or "We'll only pay for your college if you major in what we want".

I've also seen these families impose curfews on their adult children, prevent them from drinking at home, prevent them from having certain hobbies or socializing with certain people, etc.

Myself and many of my peers moved away from home and became financially independent from our parents to avoid this situation.

In my country tuition is a loan. It's not archaic to say that if parents control your money, they can control your life. Some might not use that, many will. And what do middle-upper class parents control when they have the power to? Start with the most important things in your life and work down - who and how you date, what career you pursue, where you live, on and on. If you've never met a person whose parents held the purse strings and used it as power over them then you have a lucky group of friends.

The eradication of the family was the dream of Stalin and Mao and they took large strides toward it. It's problematic, to say the least.

Can you tell me where has he advocated for the "erradication of family"? Please, no straw men.

It was Lenin, but the central thesis is not mistaken. The family was seen as a roadblock to the revolution since women, useful wards-of-the-state-to-be, were too busy caring for families to help the cause.


https://www.marxists.org/archive/zetkin/1920/lenin/zetkin1.h... (Probably in the "What About the Men?" section)

Edit: since I was downvoted, and since the Lenin interview is gold, I'll mine some for you... hopefully with enough context:

"I ask you: Is now the time to amuse proletarian women with discussions on how one loves and is loved, how one marries and is married? Of course, in the past, present and future, and among different nations-what is proudly called historical materialism! Now all the thoughts of women comrades, of the women of the working people, must be directed towards the proletarian revolution."

I meant "he" as in "the poster", not the figures you decided to summon.

> Are they wrong? If you had time to apply for colleges because you had housing in high school and didn't have to work all day to pay for food and housing, are you truly independent? If you didn't have to fetch your own water every morning and hunt your food? Maybe you think I'm taking the argument too far, but I see where they are coming from. True "freedom" is a bit of a myth, and shouldn't it be?

I totally get where you're coming from, but I think you're tilting at something of a straw man here.

Consider my own case: I received quite a bit of assistance from my parents, particularly in my late teens and early twenties. By 30 or so, direct assistance from them was limited to non-essentials - they paid for our annual family vacations, for instance, and bought my wife a new SUV when our second child was born. None of those were necessary, but of course we benefited.

The point of individualism as I see it isn't to be able to say "I accepted help from no one to get to where I am", but to be able to say "I am secure where I am, and need help from no one to maintain that security." It might seem like a subtle difference in phrasing, but it's actually not.

One of the biggest reasons I work as hard as I do to build wealth is so my children will have the best start in life I can give them. That doesn't mean that I'm going to give them a big chunk of cash - or any cash, honestly. That means that we can homeschool them, my wife doesn't have to work outside the home, and we can afford to give them experiences that many (or most) their peers will likely never have.

My dream isn't to create heiresses that never have to work. My dream is to give my daughters a childhood that prepares them to be the absolute best people they can be, and from which they can springboard to the life they decide they want.

To put it another way - if, in thirty years, my daughters are living a life of luxury having never hard to work hard for it or stress about money, I will have failed. If they're living a secure and fulfilling life, then I've succeeded regardless of what socio-economic class they fit into.

> In any case, other cultures have taken on the idea of familial responsibility and wealth to great success by their own measures. Just because it is different, doesn't mean it's bad.

I completely agree here. My parents cared for my maternal grandparents throughout my childhood. First they move them close and kept them in their life (and took advantage of "free" childcare). Over time they moved them closer still until they needed on-site care, at which point they bought a larger home and built out the walk-out basement into an apartment for them. They were part of my family life until I myself was an adult, and my parents took full responsibility for their care.

I'm 35 today, and see myself stepping into the same role for my in-laws. My parents are both healthy and financially secure, but my in-laws are not. They're still able to live on their own (and likely will be for a couple of decades now at least), but I've taken responsibility for their transportation needs and provided them with a reliable, new vehicle that they otherwise wouldn't have been able to afford. I'm working on expanding my personal investment portfolio into residential real estate, and expect that within a few years I will have moved them into a "rental" property that my wife and I own, at which point I will consider myself responsible for their housing. If the time comes that one or both of them need 24/7 onsite care, then they'll probably be living either in our home or very nearby.

From my perspective, this is what family means.

Right now one of the problems is that if the two parties, the Democrats are pro-pension and pro-equalization but anti-housing. Meanwhile the republicans are pro-housing and mostly anti wealth tax. I think that’s one of the fundamental reasons we’re in this mess.

Individual freedom has always been an illusion, but the interventions you are proposing would help us all take responsibility for the system rather than defaulting to one where the only system we can maybe rely on is our family.

I agree that our cultural shouldn't consider it a failure to have multiple generations of a family helping each other and working together. That's what family is all about!

At the same time, there is an underside to this. No one gets to choose their family, and a cultural that presumes familiar support is a cultural that makes life harder for those who happen to be born into dysfunctional or tragic families.

Maybe the way to thread the needle is to have a culture that says "we're in this together" and is based on more "family" as defined by the people you choose to make part of your life and less people you happen to share DNA with.

What is the way forward for those born in dysfunctional families and no safety net? I think the only answer is try to amass as much wealth as possible while I can in an area it's more possible (bay area, nyc etc) and bail out solo somewhere else later to try an afford a decent life.

At the same time, there is an underside to this. No one gets to choose their family, and a cultural that presumes familiar support is a cultural that makes life harder for those who happen to be born into dysfunctional or tragic families.

I'd say it's the exact opposite. A culture that does not presume family support is one that feels it unnecessary to lend a helping hand to those without strong family networks to draw upon.

Family support is, for most people, a given -- to pretend it doesn't exist is to deny reality. When someone faces life without it, he can't help but feel a bit cheated. When one considers family help to be unremarkable, then those who succeed without it look all the more exceptional.

I'm not Asian American so take this with a grain of salt, but from what I see in my friends it is NOT uncommon for Asian American parents to have a significant presence in their child's finances particularly when it comes to purchasing property, college, etc. Parents and grandparents are also more than happy to take care of children.

Two of my Chinese American friends own property in a high COL area due to help from their family (none of them are rich) but they are far from "ashamed" of it nor do they think they did it all by themselves. The "flipside" is that the sons and daughters are expected to house and take care of the parents once they reach very old age and do the same thing their parents did to them with their own children.

And yet, presumably you are here in the U.S. and not in South Asia.

My parents left south asia because of the corruption and theocracy, not so they could live an independent life and die alone. I'd hazard a guess, though, that the difference is more manufactured than real. My wife's family came over from Ireland in the 1600's, but the idea of tallying up the time grandparents spend taking care of kids and categorizing it as "unpaid labor" would seem odd to them too.

I suspect the real difference is between middle/upper-middle-class Americans and everyone else. There was a brief spell when a kid from a middle class household could go to college at 18 and afford to start a family, and not look back. The NYT finds it remarkable that its often no longer true. But it wasn't true for much of America even in the 20th century. Multi-generational entanglement was always common.

Are you implying that financial independence between generations is everything that makes the US better than South Asia?

Maybe. The O.P. seems so sure in his conviction that "South Asia's" culture in this regard is superior without evidence, and yet his forebears felt compelled to emigrate from there. O.P.'s argument appears to be that inter-generational independence is hard therefore we should give up and not feel bad about it.

I'm breaking a rule of the internet here by attempting to clarify my comments:

> Maybe. The O.P. seems so sure in his conviction that "South Asia's" culture in this regard is superior without evidence.

It's not a conviction. I'm not wedded to any side (nor is this an issue with a side). I didn't say in my post that any one thing was better than others. I'm simply saying that there are other places on Earth where finances are more intertwined and people don't feel shame about that. We can learn from other people and cultures and maybe in the process lose what is not a particularly helpful narrative in our society.

Is any one culture perfect? No. South Asia has many problems. But one problem I see less of is this idea that taking money from your family is bad. In America we all get money from our relatives when they're dead, and we do so guilt free. Why do we fret about it just because they're alive and can see us actually enjoy it?

What are the downsides of having an inter-generational safety net?

It provides people with ammunition against tax-funded welfare?

Changes opinions to be against estate taxes (my family earned this money why do you get to tax it)?

Establishes expectations of inter-generational help or wealth?

Ritualized patterns of obligation and dependence lead to inauthentic relationships, an inability to communicate, and self-harm.

All the replies so far describe the downsides of poor interpersonal relationships and political hypotheticals.

I'm not sure I see even one argument against the safety net specifically. A semi-argument seems to be that a familial safety net will somehow reduce other safety nets, but that sounds like a false dichotomy at best.

Yet, if you don't take the time to think of the hypotheticals, you can't account for them, and the same goes for the interpersonal relationships. These are items which increase ignorance in localized populations and are easy to turn into movements against a larger idea. It's not reasonable to solve all of them, but it's good to at least acknowledge them.

Slightly off-topic, but in recent memory: The woman from Alabama who joined ISIS had experienced poor family relations and is now stuck in a refugee/detention camp in Syria. Because of the poor relationships, her ignorance in Islam and ISIS enabled them to turn her to support their cause, which she seems to now renounce.

Pretty much what the original article implies - it generates unfair playing field. Its great if you have a healthy and wealthy family, if you're a talented child in a poor or dysfunctional family you'll never get anywhere. By having independent nuclear families its less unfair.

It makes it harder for young people from escaping an abusive family. Sure, they "just" have to leave without a safety net, but when those are widespread, society adjusts to reduce other kinds.

This strikes quite true to me. When we were between one apartment lease and buying a house, my wife, daughter, and I moved in with my parents. My mom stayed home with our daughter for almost a year, and my wife’s mom did the same for another year. We are also considering having a third child, in large part because my parents live 5 minutes away and provide a lot of free child care.

But I question whether this is “new.” None of this would be unusual in the least in Bangladesh, where my family is from. I strongly suspect that it’s not new in the US either, or at least was only unusual compared to a status quo that existed only for a blip of time during the 20th century.

>I strongly suspect that it’s not new in the US either, or at least was only unusual compared to a status quo that existed only for a blip of time during the 20th century.

You're entirely correct. I'll go a step further and say it never even went away--at least in my experience as a child of lower middle class White baby boomer parents in the South.

I have a great uncle on my mom's side who stayed at home while he finished college and then him and his wife lived with his parents for a while after he graduated.

My dad's oldest brother and his wife lived with their parents for a while.

My dad's youngest brother lived with his parents for years.

My grandparents eventually moved in with my dad and his wife--partially because they were getting too old to maintain a house, but also to help him afford a new house after he'd gone through a bankruptcy.

Both sets of grandparents also provided my parents with free childcare, and my parents and aunts and uncles all borrowed plenty of money from my grandparents over the years.

I have many friends who've had similar experiences.

I think the solid, seemingly disconnected "nuclear family" is an interesting mythic tale in the American Dream that is an accident of consumer marketing more than anything else. It sold more homes, it sold more goods, so it became a useful myth to marketers. In reality it never existed, not even in the mythic 50s where it got so ensconced in television sitcoms and advertising.


> Historians Alan Macfarlane and Peter Laslett postulated that nuclear families have been a primary arrangement in England since the 13th century. This primary arrangement was different than the normal arrangements in Southern Europe, in parts of Asia, and the Middle East where it was common for young adults to remain in or marry into the family home. In England multi-generational households were uncommon because young adults would save enough money to move out, into their own household once they married. [...]

> Critics of the term "traditional family" point out that in most cultures and at most times, the extended family model has been most common, not the nuclear family,[26] though it has had a longer tradition in England[27] than in other parts of Europe and Asia which contributed large numbers of immigrants to the Americas. The nuclear family became the most common form in the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s.[28]

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_family

See also:

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extended_family

Be careful about what research you look at when looking into the history of the Nuclear family. It's a very politically charged topic, and a lot of what you'll find is more of an agenda driven defense of the nuclear family (or the opposite) than an explorative scholarly work.

It's difficult to find a trustworthy source on the matter if you're just doing a quick google search.

Probably the primary reason that multi-generational households were less common in England people married much later there than in the rest of Europe (Laslett does mention this in The World We Have Lost).

The "nuclear family" is more mobile than the "extended family". If you want your workforce capable of moving about the country to follow the demand for labor, the "nuclear family" can be a desirable thing for that reason alone.

To be clear I'm not talking about seasonal migrant farm labor, more like (for example) the decline of the rust belt & coal belt, and the rise of tech hubs.

My parents are also Bengali. It's given me a different perspective about the topic. The nuclear family is kind of a unique thing on a world stage. At least in Bangladesh, it's hard for people to place trust in wealth they can't hold themselves (this includes pensions given by the government), so they'll spend their money on gold, property or land (assets in general). Having and raising children becomes a give and take, where you can only expect to be taken care of in old age if you take care of and invest in your children. This an incredibly old system, and it's because it's been proven to be effective regardless of location or time.

it's because it's been proven to be effective regardless of location or time

It's not very effective if kids move away to find work. Then it fails both the grandparents & the parents. That might be its greatest shortcoming.

>On average, each millennial parent receives $11,011 per year in combined financial support and unpaid labor, the 2017 TD Ameritrade Millennial Parents Survey found, for an annual total of $253 billion in America.

I wish they had separated the unpaid labor from financial support. Grandparents helping raise the kids is a tradition as old as time; the labor portion is not the surprising part here.

That did seem like a really weird framing. It seems like the corollary article would be. "Family ties eroding, grandparents no longer spending time with grandkids"

Having grandparents help raise kids saves a ton of money in childcare costs.

It can be the difference between someone being a stay at home mom/dad vs providing a second income stream for their family.

The financial impact is that big.

Yes, this seems so strange to me as well. Like, true, this is quantifiable in terms of dollars, but there are worlds with out money. The 'family' has always been a world without money (define family as you will).

If anything, having other family members in the child-rearing process is something of a luxury. If you have 'good-enough' parents and siblings, I'd imagine that you'd want the whole family involved.

I can't imagine how toxic a relationship you'd have to have with your family to see child-rearing in terms of dollars and cents.

Yes -- how much unpaid labor of this kind did past generations receive? Without quantifying that, there is no comparative basis here.

Seems like most articles written on this subject assume young people come from "well-off enough" families that can support them, even if they themselves are broke. It seems like "my family can support me" is universally accepted as truth for such people in those situations.

Are there any articles or studies done on young people from working-class families or families that aren't affluent enough to support them?

Rich kids are very overrepresented in journalism. Perhaps because the wages are so bad for much of it that anyone without a decent support system/trust fund can't afford to live in a place like New York City or London on a journalist's salary.

There's been a fair bit written about this:





This is a pet peeve of mine because the 'millennial' label seems to be modelled on what are (at least currently) working class children of upper middle class parents.

The entire trope is 'well off kid ends up working in coffee shop whilst subsidised by mum and will never buy a home'.

It's a strange microcosm.

People like me that have solidly working class backgrounds yet haven't been abject failures just completely disappear in this worldview.

I guess that's just identity politics. At this point, trying to engage meaningfully seems like a waste of time to me.

So it doesn't quite take the same theme of parental-financial support as the parent article to this comment thread does, but:


I do sometimes point to this article as something of note, that resonates with me as a member of that particular social group. Of course with many things, YMMV as to how much of this also happens to relate to you and whatever social group you happen to be a member of--since there are valid parallels across the socio-economic fabric.

That link can also be found in this article, which resonated pretty well with me for similar reasons.


Same caveat here: article doesn't necessarily go into the aspects of how Black millennial fare with parental-financial assistance, but I'm definitely keeping an eye out for such an article. Maybe I should write an anecdote laden response to the NYT piece here, and publish it on medium (mild sarcasm in use here).

I'd imagine that having those opportunities and privileges helps folks get in a position where they can write these articles and get wide readership. So there's likely a self-selection bias.

You're right. As an upper middle class East coast American can attest, these NYT thinkpieces are written by young rich parent-supported kids living in New York City, who write their articles by asking their FB friends for quotes. Not many NYT writers live in Buffalo.

This comment from the NYT comments section captures my reaction well. Note that the subject of the criticism is the article, not millenials:

> I find the tone of this article just stunning. Since when is there a sacrosanct right to live in the most expensive housing markets in the country? NYC is not newly expensive - it has always been expensive. When I graduated from college many years ago, I got a job in Manhattan, but certainly couldn't afford to live there. So I did what most people in my situation did: I lived where I could afford and commuted to work over an hour each way on public transportation. This is hardly a radical proposition except to those who somehow think they are entitled to have what they want when they want it. Sometimes you have to learn to defer gratification. The easiest time to do this is when you are young. After 8 years of saving, I was able to make a down payment on a house. 4 years after that I finished paying off my student loans. There is great value in learning to live within one's means and I am grateful that my parents found it more important to foster self-reliance than to insulate me from disappointment.

really? It reads like the subject of the criticism is millenials...

I find the tone of the criticism stunning, even if it were about the article and not millenials. The article is laying out how millenials have it different than previous generations. Yes NYC was always expensive but even now places that are 1 hour commute are out of reach for your average 30 something. It's tough to say when the commentor came up but the article is painting a picture that the game has changed and it isn't as easy as it once was to delay gratification for 8 years because it's more like double that amount of time. At that point we need to start asking questions to understand if this is sustainable.

> really? It reads like the subject of the criticism is millenials...

It’s quite explicitly a criticism of the article’s tone, which suggests millennials should feel entitled to certain luxuries. This is markedly different than arguing that millennials hold an entitlement attitude.

> The article is laying out how millenials have it different than previous generations. Yes NYC was always expensive but even now places that are 1 hour commute are out of reach for your average 30 something.

Perhaps that is the case the article means to make, but it supports itself with anecdotes about how a down-on-her-luck millennial was able to buy a $400K San Diego condo on the beach thanks to a $40K gift from her parents. That might sound reasonable to a New Yorker, but to the rest of the country that is incredibly tone deaf.

This isn’t dunking on millennials—I’m a millennial in my lower 30s and I come from a lower middle class background. I’m renting downtown in a major US city, and I’m saving to buy property, so I’m very much the demographic in question. Still, I can’t imagine expecting my parents to help financially (they didn’t help with college either). The economy is perhaps worse, but the salaries in the article are still perfectly manageable if you don’t have to go out to eat every week or take annual international vacations or live in the hottest neighborhoods.

There are a lot of problems---namely: debt, cost of living, and third-world immigration---that this generation has to face.

That being said, we are still probably the second-richest generation in the history of the world. Look at the squalor people lived in only 80 or 100 years ago: whole families in one-bedroom houses with no central heat or A/C, a chamberpot in the corner of the room, wood-burning stove providing all heat and cooking, and almost certain death by most diseases. If they wanted to start a business, they'd have to save enough capital to start a brick-and-mortar enterprise in a local market.

We have the ability to buy a $500 computer and start a business or learn a new skill from anywhere. We have access to wondrous modern healthcare (yes, which gov't interference has increased the price of, but the quality is nonetheless excellent). Cars are much better than they used to be---your 10-year old Japanese car with power windows will run until the bumpers fall off, and then probably keep going.

I'm certainly nowhere near where I want to be financially, but perhaps I'm striking an optimistic tone today because I watched They Shall Not Grow Old over the weekend. One of the veterans talks about how he was retreating after an offensive and saw a fellow 16-year-old writhing on the ground in pain after being blown to bits. He knew the boy was done for, and put him out of his misery. By comparison to what they endured, we live in Heaven-on-Earth.

I can't understand the tone of this article-- is there something inherently wrong with receiving parental help? What's wrong with family members helping each other? It's part of being in a family, people of your own blood helping, protecting, and lifting each other up. In an article slighting millennials for claiming to "pull themselves up by the bootstraps", it's even weirder to look in the NYT comments section filled with boomers talking down at struggling millennials while bragging about how they themselves worked 8 jobs, saved 10 years for a Honda Accord, trekked 5 miles in the snow to get to work.

I can think of one negative angle--family money perpetuates inequity. If "more than half (53 percent) of Americans ages 21 to 37 have received some form of financial assistance" then 47% have not. These two halves have completely different options for housing, work, etc.

> “But she wasn’t considering the fact that she graduated without any student-loan debt, came from a two-income household, as opposed to me. I am starting with negative wealth because I have loans to pay off and was raised in a family with only one income.”

Whether something is "inherently" wrong depends entirely on your own moral philosophy, but one downside to parental dependency is that it perpetuates and exaggerates class division.

Because it replaces meritocracy with oligarchy if wealthy parents are required to get a foothold in life.

I disagree, but what do you suppose people do then? I'm afraid it's unrealistic to expect a society to collectively agree on donating to charity any excess money originally intended for helping their offspring.

I expect society to severely tax and regulate wealth, and also the most harmful methods that the wealthy use to game meritocracy. Eg. for private education - tax the hell out of it, legislate that each next stage somewhat accounts for the last one being rigged (eg. colleges forced to push down people from expensive schools) and seek to promote meritocratic alternatives (eg. online education).

If there's one thing there needs to exist non-government alternatives to it's education. The government shouldn't get a near monopoly on telling the youth what to think. FWIW your median "private school" is usually church run, not some elite prep school CEOs send their kids to.

Church-run schools that exist to indoctrinate children into religious beliefs and refuse to teach basic science in favor of their doctrine should absolutely pay for the externality of the rest of us having to interact with those children later in life.

Government-run schools that exist to indoctrinate children into nationalist beliefs and refuse to discipline children who make school unpleasant and poor learning environments should be shut down.

Lol. Discipline that would expose a likely financially-struggling teacher or school to an overtly litigious public? I forgot it was the schools' responsibility to raise our kids.

You tax the ultra wealthy.

The easiest thing would be to increase progressive tax brackets (why does it stop at 600k?), raise taxes on inheritance over $10 million, establish new multiple payroll taxes to help SSA (why do the brackets stop at 500k?).

The rich are destroying the earth through greed and society by destroying the middle class.

They had their fun, it's time for 99% of other people to enjoy the government.

It's called "government" and "progressive taxation" and "labor laws" and not only does this coordination as a society level reduce inequality, it also increases GDP over time as everyone benefits from investments in the commons.

Yes. In a market economy it is wildly unfair to take family assistance because many people do not have access to it.

Family assistance is more than just cash though. If my mother helps me look after the kids twice a week for free, that frees up hours I could use to "get ahead" in life (study, prep for interviews). Should that not be allowed?

Life IS unfair.

Recognizing that fact, many people spend quite a lot of time, thought, and energy to make it less so.

Yes. But even so, that doesn't make it immoral to help your children of for children to accept that help.

Being in favor of a better world tomorrow doesn't mean that you can't play by the rules of the world today.

Every election, I vote for policies that will considerably increase my taxes, but at the same time, I expect my CPA to make sure that I only pay the taxes that I'm legally required to pay.

Recognizing that fact, you adapt, utilize all the cards you have been dealt with, turn your disadvantages into advantages.

For example, when you are born poor, you develop skills that someone who is wealthier does not have the opportunity to learn.

If make it less so means reducing personal freedom to the point of regulating how much time a grandmother can take care of it's grandchildren, I really strongly disagree with that vision.

I believe the solution is probably more along the lines of taxing everyone fairly, and using some of the funds to provide free or affordable childcare to everyone who wants/needs it. Likewise with other forms of family support/advantages. Provide alternatives for people who don't have things by birth-lottery.

So you can still have grandma watch your kid all you like, while the person who has no living relatives can still have a kid and hold a job by taking advantage of subsidized daycare.

And under that system grandmother could be paid for the value she provides.

No one is suggesting that.

Equal opportunity is good. Preventing or even suggesting a family cannot help their own children is ridiculous.

I don’t give a shit whether it’s fair or not. I’ll do whatever I can to help my children just as most parents would.

One of the things I realized watching the tv show Revolution was that every time someone had a choice between "my child might suffer, even a little" and "destroying the whole world" the parents on the show chose the destruction of the world every time.

Maybe parents shouldn't get to make decisions.

Parents should not make decisions about their children?

I am not liking where this thread is going.

Parents routinely choose selfish outcomes at the detriment to their children and society.

Not vaccinating your children not only affects your immediately family, but everyone's children around you. That is the most obvious example, others include indoctrinating children in religion is another.

Not vaccinating your children isn't selfish, it's the opposite because they are at greater risk of contracting disease.

If this just boils down to "it's unfair", then I don't know what to tell you. Very rarely does anything in this life boil down to pure meritocracy.


It's a little disingenuous to equate prioritizing family over others as patriarchal anarchism. I grew up in a supportive family that looked out for each other, and I can only hope to create a similar environment for my children when I have them.

For me, it is very natural that family will always be a priority over greater society. This by no means insinuates that I have no loyalty to the people in my community, or my country-- I think that's too extreme of a conclusion to come to. If there's (God forbid) some natural disaster, a fire, a shooter on the loose, etc. I am always going to first check on and ensure the well being of my immediate family before that of others.

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