Hey, Have You Seen This? Common ‘Boomerang Generation’ Statistic Debunked
A lot of people move back in with their parents at some point after college. But is it so common that a whopping 85 percent of college grads move home?
Not according to a recent segment on WNYC’s On The Media, which suggested that often-quoted 85 percent is not a reliable statistic.
The show featured an interview with Politifact’s Louis Jacobson, who dug deep to source the statistic and verify its accuracy. His findings are described in this post.
The 85 percent statistic, which has been cited by CNN, Time and other reputable outlets, was originally provided by the company Twentysomething (its website was taken down, but an archived version is available here). Jacobson says:
Journalists were content to copy a number from other news reports without verifying it — or even asking when the survey was conducted.
If the reporters had looked deeper, they would have found some oddities about the firm that claimed to have conducted the survey, a Philadelphia-area company called Twentysomething. The company’s website had an impressive list of staffers, but when we checked on them, we found several who either didn’t work for the company or appeared to be fictional.
Politifact spoke with Twentysomething President David A. Morrison in the Bahamas. “He said the company went out of business a few years ago and that the survey is now out of date. He answered some of our questions but then ended the call, asking us not to contact him again,” Jacobson notes.
As for the number of students who actually move home, it’s probably way lower than 85 percent, Jacobson says:
Based on our research, we can’t confirm the validity of the survey because we haven’t see any details about it and Morrison declined to provide them. We rated the claim False because Morrison said the number was based on a survey done “many years ago” and that economists have said Obama has had limited impact on the economy so can’t reasonably be blamed for boomerang kids. Also, a study released by the Pew Research Center before the Crossroads ad appeared found rates no higher than about 40 percent, and possibly lower, depending on what age range is included in the data.
Listen to the On The Media segment here:
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