Stuck with your adult children still living at home? There’s good (and rather counter-intuitive) news: scientists have found inter-generational living has huge benefits for mental health.
Unemployment, student debt and low earnings for graduates mean more adult children than ever are moving back home after university.
But a study looking at families across Europe found a significant reduction in depression for over-50s living intergenerationally (although we can't vouch for the health of your wallet...).
The research also found living with grown-up children had a bigger effect on parents’ mental wellbeing than their daily activities or level of education.
Scientists think these benefits are down to combatting loneliness, which previous studies have found to be twice as unhealthy as being obese, and nearly as bad as smoking.
Researchers from the LSE, King’s College London and Harvard collaborated on the huge study, which looked at data on over 50,000 people.
The scientists used information from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe to find appropriate participants to study, and then graded them on symptoms of depression.
They then used a sophisticated statistical analysis to look at the association between living arrangement and depression, also correcting for socioeconomic status.
Previous studies have been unclear on the benefits of intergenerational living, with some finding the move caused financial strains.
This study only looked at the benefits for older people, and research has been inconclusive on whether moving back in is good for young people’s mental health.
The benefits of rent-free living are obvious, and with half of students who paid the new higher university fees living at home within six months of graduating, living with children in later life is likely to remain the norm for some time.
One of the paper’s authors, Emilie Courtin of the London School of Economics, told the New Scientist the results could have been quite different, with parents’ autonomy and independence at risk.
“But we found that the effect of intergenerational residence is actually really good for older people,” she said. Reason enough not to chuck the kids out quite yet...
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