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The Flip Side of the Boomerang Generation: The Role of Childhood Adversity and Social Support on Housing Stress and Independent Living of Millennials in Young Adulthood


Background and Aims. There currently is a growing understanding of the physical and mental health consequences of childhood adversity, yet much less is known about how childhood adversity relates to adult housing outcomes. Some social supports present in the transition to adulthood may buffer young people from housing challenges. This study examines the relationship between childhood adversity, social support in the transition to adulthood, and housing stress and living arrangements in adulthood.

Methods. This study is based on data from 10,034 individuals from Waves 1, 3, and 4 in-home surveys of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. Weighted binomial and multinomial logistic regressions were used in the analysis. The Holm Bonferroni approach corrected for multiple comparisons. Lastly, predictive margins were calculated for the full moderation models.

Results. Reporting emotional abuse in childhood was significantly associated with higher likelihood of experiencing housing stress in adulthood (ages 26 - 32) and lower likelihood of living with parents in adulthood, compared to living in one’s own place. Compared to those who received less than $200 from parents in a 12-month period in the transition to adulthood, those who received $1,000 or more had significantly higher likelihood of living with parents in adulthood. Among those who reported moderate childhood emotional abuse, the likelihood of experiencing housing stress at ages 26 – 32 was higher among those who received financial support from parents at ages 18 – 26. The relationship between reporting childhood emotional abuse and likelihood of living with parents in adulthood was also conditional on parental financial support at ages 18 – 26 such as those who received parental financial support were more likely to live with parents approximately six years later.

Conclusions. This study suggests that the relationship between childhood emotional abuse and housing stress exists above and beyond other forms of childhood adversity. We should consider alternative options for housing for those who report childhood emotional abuse. Findings also provide further evidence that cultivating any kind of supportive relationship with an adult, even a parent, could be a source of resilience for emotionally abused young people in early adulthood.

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