Surveys on parent-child financial relationships are often run by or at the behest of banks or other financial institutions. They've got a particular reason to understand what's happening financially to the generation that should be forming households and buying homes.
That's what makes this most recent study so interesting. It's by analysts at the New York Times (informed by a data set known as the P.S.I.D. Transition to Adulthood Supplement.) It found that almost half of the people in the data base in their early 20s reported that their parents help them pay their rent. Among those who get help, the average amount is about $3,000 a year.
For some, the dependence stems from difficulties in finding a stable career job. For many others, it's a Big Expensive City issue. Skilled work is increasingly concentrated in high-rent metropolitan areas, and salaries aren't in sync with rents. Help from the Bank of Mom and Dad is a means to staying on the job in order to move ahead.
Some data bits from the study:
The average amount of parental help for the 20-somethings — roughly $250 a month — covers 29 percent of the median monthly housing costs in America’s metro areas.
Twenty-somethings who work in farming, construction, retail and personal services tend to get the least parental assist; those in the art and design fields, the most--an average of $3,600 a year. In part that's because of the high barriers into fields like art, education, health and law.
Young people in metro areas with a million or more people are 30 percent more likely to receive rent money from their parents--almost twice as much money-- than those in smaller cities.
In the 1980s, fewer than half of 20-somethings received any parental support; by 2010, nearly 70 percent did.
Living expenses account for only 20 percent of the help that parents give their children. According to the survey, the bulk of the support comes in the form of lump-sum gifts for things like a down payment on a house or capital to start a business.
Little did we know--and a point the survey makes--is that being able to reassure our kids that the Bank of Mom and Dad would be there for them influences the decisions they make--from what to major in in college to the career they choose. It's also a reminder that economic advantages begin at home and continue as kids grow into independence.