Midlife mothers report their children returning to the maternal home after departing (i.e., boomerang children) and remaining in the maternal home longer (i.e., never-left children) than the past half century. Over the same time period, the percent of Americans considered overweight and obese have increased. Yet, we know very little about how such delays affect the body weight of mothers. The current study uses the National Survey of Youth 1979 (NLSY79) and its corresponding young adult sample (NLSY79-YA) across 20 consecutive years (N = 7197) to determine if extended coresidence with an adult child is associated with midlife mothers’ body weight changes. Results from multilevel regression models show that compared to mothers whose young adult children left home and never returned (“gone-for-good”), mothers of the “never-left” had higher body weight at 40, but similar body weight at 50. Mothers of the boomerangers had higher body weight relative to mothers of the “gone-for-good” across midlife. Mothers of the boomerangers and mothers of the “never-left” had similar weight at age 40, but the former group had more weight gain across midlife. These findings lend new insight into how different patterns of mother-young adult coresidence likely affect the health of mothers and suggest that the effects of recent demographic trends such as “failure to launch” on family formation and functioning should be viewed holistically with a more inclusive sociological lens.
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A close scrutiny of young adult’s residential trajectory shows that about 30% of the young adults in the sample exited maternal household prior to age 18. Sensitivity analysis that includes an early-exit variable shows qualitative similar results as those presented in the text.
1% of young adults in the sample reported to be “living in dormitory, fraternity, or sorority” and 9% reported to be “living in one’s own dwelling” while enrolled in regular school.
More than 75% of young adults in the sample had valid information up until age 25 or beyond.
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Zhang, Z., Reczek, C. & Colen, C.G. Intergenerational Coresidence and Mothers’ Body Weight at Midlife. Popul Res Policy Rev 39, 1051–1085 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11113-020-09567-x
- Intergenerational coresidence
- Body weight/BMI
- Life course and stress process perspectives
- Multilevel modeling