Youth not at fault for lack of fortune

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Let’s not blame apathy or cultural traditions for young adults’ costs to their parents.

A recent survey conducted by CIBC found that two-thirds of Canadian parents are feeling the financial burden of supporting their young adult children.

Almost half of the polled parents said that they spend up to $500 a month on living expenses for their adult children, and 20 per cent reported that this has hampered their ability to retire.

According to a Toronto Star article, a marked increase in adults living at home and first-generation immigrant families, where intergenerational homes are the norm, contribute to the hardship of parents supporting their offspring.

While it’s unfortunate that parents must suffer in order to support their children, let’s not make the mistake of tarring today’s youth with the entitlement brush.

Since 1980, the average annual inflation rate has been 3.04 per cent, while the cost of living has risen dramatically.  For instance, a hypothetical bundle of goods that would have cost $100 in 1980, now costs $284.79.

Many expenses, including tuition, are also rising faster than our minimum wage can compensate.

Higher tuition costs, laptops, internet and cell phone bills are also expenses that parents didn’t have in their day, but are now mandatory for the contemporary student.

Meanwhile, the youth unemployment rate in Canada is 13.1 per cent, almost double that of the rest of Canada.

So, let’s look at the reverse side of CIBC’s survey: today’s youth are struggling to survive in a world where even though everything costs more, they can’t find a job and, apparently, the traditional parental safety net no longer exists.

Forget the need-a-job-for-experience-but-no-one-will-hire-me-without-experience catch-22 — it isn’t possible to earn enough to pay for school while still having time to study.

It’s also inappropriate to blame the cultural traditions of immigrant families that have supported families for centuries, instead of our broken economic system.

Far from leeching off their parents, many young adults simply don’t have a choice. In fact, the financial sense of living at home often restricts the mobility and therefore the opportunities available to young people.

The reality today is most of us can’t get a degree and immediately land our dream job.

In a job market where the value of a university degree has been diluted, without parental support to fall back on, it’s often more realistic to obtain employable skills and not higher education.

Pursuing your dreams, unfortunately, is then a luxury afforded mostly to those lucky enough to have wealthy relatives.

Equal opportunity regardless of socio-economic background seems a more and more elusive ideal.

 Journal Editorial Board

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