News Release

Boomerang children, bamboccioni, nestlings. Should the law regulate relations between parents and their co-residing children?

Peer-Reviewed Publication

SWPS University

In Poland - they are called gniazdownicy (nestlings), in Italy - bamboccioni (immature adults), in the English-speaking world - boomerang children. Young people, who still live with their parents despite having reached the age of majority, are a large group in many countries. Should the law regulate relations between parents and their adult children who live with them, and do we need consistent international regulations in this area? Dr. Daniela Wybrańczyk, a legal expert from SWPS University, answers these questions.

The results of the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) survey carried out in the EU countries indicate that adult children leave their family homes at an increasingly late age. However, this age varies significantly across the individual countries. In 2022, as many as 78 percent of Croatians aged 18-34 lived with their parents, as did over 65% of Poles and only slightly over 12 percent of Swedes. If we look outside Europe, as many as 76 percent of Hong Kong residents aged 18 to 35 still live with their parents. In recent decades, the percentage of people in this situation has also increased significantly in the United States. 


The consequences of prolonged cohabitation of young adults with their parents (...) may be observed on three levels of social life: economic, psychological and social, Dr. Daniela Wybrańczyk from the Institute of Law of SWPS University points out in the analysis published in Family & Law


As the legal expert describes, young people living with their parents start their own families at a later stage, which leads to changes in the demographic structure. The feeling of economic dependence on parents may also cause lower self-confidence of adult children. Additionally, long-term co-residence of adult children and their parents often leads to conflicts within families. 


The law provides a practical method of solving problems in social relations, and (...) so far the issues related to nesting have not been subject to a comprehensive legal analysis. The introduction of appropriate legal regulations could affect the scope and consequences of the discussed phenomenon and change the tendency of young people achieving adulthood later and later, Dr. Wybrańczyk emphasises.


Who is a "boomerang child"?


Sociology has a number of definitions of "boomerang children". According to one of them, it is a person aged 25-34, living with their parents, unmarried, not a parent. According to another, it is an adult who, for some reason, does not want to or cannot "leave the nest". However, the applicable legal acts do not use the term "boomerang child" and do not contain its legal definition. Doctor Wybrańczyk argues that defining this term is necessary.


It should be determined from what point in time we may classify a person as boomerang child and what is the deciding factor: the age of majority, the moment of completing education or the moment of actual independence, the legal expert points out. 


The child's age, at which the obligation of the parents to support the child expires, varies between individual countries. As a result, the definition of the "boomerang child" may also be different. The question arises, however, whether it would not be reasonable to adopt a single, common definition of this concept - at least in European countries.


Should the law encourage adults to become independent? 


It is also necessary to answer questions that may be common to many countries: Should the law encourage adults to be independent? Do current legal regulations encourage or discourage living with parents? Should parents, with whom their adult children live, be supported by the law? 


According to Dr. Wybrańczyk, legal relations between parents and their adult children should also be defined. For example, it is worth answering the question whether the income of "boomerang children" should be used exclusively for their needs? Should any surplus be used for the needs of the entire family? If so, what should this obligation apply to, should it relate to the costs of housing, food, or other, e.g. the parent's personal expenses for medical treatment? 


The development of an appropriate legal model of supporting them [young adults - ed.] in becoming independent at the European level would help to influence the scale of the discussed phenomenon. At the same time, thanks to comparative law research, countries where nesting is a significant social problem, might introduce legal instruments based on the solutions adopted in other countries where this phenomenon occurs on a smaller scale to shape their own policy in this area, Dr. Wybrańczyk concludes. 

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