Thursday, May 15, 2008

Baby boomers need to take responsibility for new graduates’ angst

A recent study out of the University of Alberta[1] shows that students experience depression and angst up to seven years after they graduate from university. While this is a serious issue that should receive more attention, responsibility of this problem should not be laid at the feet of youth and students. For example, the Globe and Mail completely ignores massive student debt and lower wages than their parents, as an obvious source of this depression and frustration.

Instead, Globe author Tralee Pearce points to children returning to their parents’ home as the reason for high levels of depression—as if young people hate their parents that badly. Common sense would suggest that economic factors are the real force sending young graduates home to their parents. As a result of this omission, the Globe’s underlying thesis is that parents must exercise tough love, and evict their “boomerang” kids before depression sets in. Make no mistake, this is generational warfare. Baby Boomers paid a fraction of what students today are forced to pay for an education. It’s unsurprising that unprecedented debt levels might be causing new graduates’ angst.

In addition to the need for more research, the Baby Boomer generation must take responsibility for advocating tax cuts over reducing the costs of post-secondary education. Most importantly, attention needs to be paid to the lower starting salaries, fewer job prospects and high debt levels that recent graduates face. This will be the only way that we can have honest debate on the source of their new graduates' angst and growing feelings of dispossession.

[1]Galambos, & Krahn, H. J. 2008. Depression and anger trajectories during the transition to adulthood. Journal of Marriage and Family, 70, 15-27

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