It's So Bad in Greece, People Are Moving Back in With Their Parents

Youth joblessness is still alarmingly high, while fertility has cratered

Visitors pass a view of the Acropolis Hill as they walk through the Acropolis museum in Athens.

Visitors pass a view of the Acropolis Hill as they walk through the Acropolis museum in Athens.

Photographer: Kostas Tsironis/Bloomberg

Moving out of the house you grew up in is a rite of passage. Moving back in with your parents is a cry for help.

In Greece,  it's come to just that.

The number of people too broke to afford their own place has ballooned since 2010, when the Mediterranean nation's economic woes began.  The share of momma's boys (and girls) between the ages of 18 and 34 has grown to 63.5 percent, according to Eurostat, the European Union's statistics agency. More than half of those between 25 and 34 live at home.

The only country that can hold a torch to Greece is Italy, where it's a cliché how much kids love their mothers. Yet the reasons why so many adult children live with their parents is very much grounded in hard economic facts. Two factors are critical:

Zero job prospects

Looking at Greece's youth unemployment numbers, where more than half of people under 25 are out of work,  it's hardly surprising many of them settle for free home-cooked meals and their childhood rooms.

Declining fertility

People in Greece just aren't making babies. And who can blame them? Raising a family is expensive. What that means is that the population just keeps getting older, which leaves a shrinking workforce bearing the brunt of higher pension costs as more people retire.

For now, the parents are sustaining their adult children, but pretty soon it's going to be the other way around. And then what?

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