Saturday, May 5, 2012

Parents play favorites when helping adult kids out

SAN FRANCISCO�More than 60% of today's young adults have received financial help from their parents � and those described as having more agreeable personalities as children get more money than others, finds a study to be presented today at a meeting of the Population Association of America.

Among the 62% of young adults getting parents' help, the average amount was $12,185, says lead author Patrick Wightman of the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

About 42% of parents help adult children pay their bills, 35% help with college tuition, 23% help with vehicle expenses, and 22% help with rent away from home, researchers found.

Children who parents said were cheerful, self-reliant and got along well with others before age 12 were more likely to receive financial gifts or loans as young adults, Wightman says. And in families with more than one child, "if they perceive one of those kids to have a better attitude or to be more self-reliant, that kid has higher odds of receiving this type of support," he says.

The analysis is based on more than 2,000 interviews with 1,368 people ages 19-22 and their parents in 2005, 2007 and 2009.

The research found that 82% of higher-income parents ($99,910 or more a year) provide help, vs. 47% of those with lower incomes (less than $37,274). Yet lower-income parents provided as great a share of their incomes overall � about 10%.

A study in the current issue of the Journal of Adult Development found similar percentages of students getting parents' assistance � about two-thirds of 402 undergraduate students ages 18-27 at four U.S. campuses.

That research, co-written by Larry Nelson, an associate professor of family life at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, found that when parents covered everything, "their children worked the fewest hours and were engaged in the greatest number of risk behaviors," defined as drinking, binge drinking, smoking and marijuana use.

Young adults without financial support from parents "were working the highest number of hours just trying to make money and survive. They weren't engaged in risk behaviors."

However, Nelson cautions they also are at risk � of dropping out of school. "They burn out. They don't finish school and have lower starting salaries."

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