Sindhutai Sapkal et al. posing for a photo

Photo by Arian Zwegers

Families around the world obey differing sets of social norms when it comes to kicking grown-up kids out of the house. These differences were on full display a few years ago in an interview David Letterman had with Indian movie star Aishwarya Rai. After chuckling when Rai told him she still lived at home, Letterman asked “Is it common in India for older children to live with their parents?” Her reply:

“It’s fine to live with your parents because, um, it’s also common in India that we don’t have to make appointments with our parents to meet for dinner.”

A 30-year multi-generational survey shows how these “Empty Nest” norms vary around the world. While over half of all Indians in the survey still live with their parents, under 15% of Americans do:

Source: Charts Bin. Data via the World Values Survey

To Arnab Sarkar, a dual resident of Bahrain and India, this isn’t much of a surprise; as he tells the Times of India, things work a bit differently where he’s from:

“In our society, a young man or woman still look up to their parents, close relatives and teachers as role models. When parents are caring they get a refuge in them and feel secure in staying with them.”

And with soaring costs for college, food, and housing, more and more Americans are also finding living at home to be a pretty good safety net — over 30% of young adults in America still live with their parents. For many, home is where the heart (and the free rent) is. For a society with very few safety nets, perhaps it’s time the United States de-stigmatizes living with your parents.

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