Will Today's Teens Out-earn Their Parents or Just Live in the Basement Eating Wheaties?

Will Today's Teens Out-earn Their Parents or Just Live in the Basement Eating Wheaties?

NEW YORK (MainStreet)—One in four teens expects to be 25 to 27 years old before becoming financially independent from parents, according to a new study from Junior Achievement USA and The Allstate Foundation. Michael Horan is one of them. The 18-year-old from Duluth, Georgia plans to study orthodontia for the next several years. "By 25, I think I'll still be needing help paying for dental school," he said. "So 27 is what I'm aiming for."

A lot more teens, including many who aren't in dental school, anticipate being dependent on parents until their mid-20s these days. This 2013 Teens and Personal Finance Poll found twice as many teens -- 25% compared to 12% in 2011 --didn't anticipate achieving financial independence until 25 or later.

Stephanie Bell, spokesperson for Junior Achievement USA, a nonprofit financial literacy organization based in Colorado Springs, Col., called the results surprising. "Those of us who are parents might be shocked to learn that teens might be depending on their parents for almost 10 years past the time you think a teen might move out of the house," Bell said.

That's not the only surprise lurking in recent research into twenty-somethings living at home. A recent Clark University poll of parents whose 18- to 29-year-old children lived with them found 61% were "mostly positive" and only 6% were "mostly negative" about the arrangement. Among benefits most parents cited were feeling closer to kids, getting help with household responsibilities and having more companionship, reported Jeffrey J. Arnett, a research professor of psychology, co-author of a new parenting guide, When Will My Grown-Up Kid Grow Up? (Workman, 2013), and director of the annual Clark U. poll.

Although they may be staying home longer than previous generations, today's teens are also more likely to expect they will eventually climb higher on the economic ladder than their parents. Compared to the 2011 poll by Junior Achievement and Allstate, that optimistic group increased by 20%.