So, look down the generations, what can you see? Well, one thing that you might well detect is a change in the way that young adults relate to independent life. There has been, in the past few years, a noticeable ‘boomerang’ effect, leading to a rather illustrious term: ‘the boomerang generation’.
This, of course, is all the more rewarding when we recall the “OK, Boomer” video from 2019 when a 25 year-old parliamentarian in New Zealand took the piss out of an older MP who heckled her during a speech.
From boomer to boomerang! Yes, truly what goes around comes around, it would appear!
So, the boomerang generation, the ones who left, and then, like a boomerang returned to the place of departure: Mum and Dad’s home.
We couldn’t wait to leave the nest. As teenagers, it was a topic that was never far from either our conversations or thoughts. We grasped greedily at the chance of further education, partly because it meant that we would be out of the family home and living independently, or at least semi-independently, for the first time.
But that seems to have changed. The ‘boomerang’ phenomenon is now considered a permanent feature of UK society, for example, with young adults now returning to the nest until well into their 20s and 30s.
And it appears that this is OK. Nobody has a problem with this social development. Nobody thinks that steps should be taken to discourage this phenomenon which has a direct negative effect on the quality of life of the boomerangs’ parents.
Here in Hungary, however, plans are being set in motion, plans to encourage these boomerangs to change, if not into an arrow or spear, then at least into the sort of boomerang that I throw – something that flies off at an odd angle but never comes very close to returning to the point of origin.
For a number of years now, the Hungarian state has made inroads into the problems facing Hungarians, including the specific problems facing the younger section of society. In order to help young people get their foot on the first rung of the property ladder, an extensive government-subsidised loan scheme, CSOK, has been created. This enables young families with children or those planning to have children to avail themselves of grants and loans for housing projects at preferential rates. Obviously, the government would like to ensure the reverse of current European state of affairs where more people die each year than are born, but providing an opportunity for young families to buy or construct their own home benefits society as a whole, too.
And now there’s a new element to assist the young, a new incentive to ensure that rather than staying at home for life like a stereotypical Italian male, the younger generation are going to be given the (apparently necessary) push to head out of the door and learn to live an independent life.
That new element is the scrapping of personal income tax for the under-25s as of 1 January 2022. Now this is merely the latest in a series of measures that the Hungarian government has put into place to facilitate the lives of younger Hungarians. In addition to baby bonds, the baby expecting loan, the grants and preferential-rate loans available for young families with children, the government has enacted plans for children to receive free school meals. Education is free. Textbooks are free. When students complete their secondary schooling, the government covers the cost of their first language examination. For those who do well, the government makes it possible for them to go to university free of charge. Recently the government undertook to pay the cost of the driving test, and now the government is waiving personal income tax for those under 25.
This level of support is unprecedented. And it is to be hoped that with these unprecedented measures, the government will be able to buck the global, mainly Western trend of young people returning to the nest as though the umbilical cord was never severed.
Fundamentally, the Hungarian government is trying to re-establish normal behaviour in young people. We cannot afford for young people to absent themselves from the economy in this way. If young people leave higher or further education only to run back to the safety of their childhood homes, then many segments of the Hungarian economy will suffer, not least the construction industry. Around the globe, what we are witnessing in most ‘developed’ societies is nothing less than the breakdown of society. That breakdown will naturally lead to economic adjustments, and perhaps other countries are willing to unleash yet another crisis upon their economies.
Hungary, however, is not. Young people, young adults are, in the simplest of terms, the future of the country. If today’s young adults require stimulation to stand up on their own two feet, so be it. Anyone capable of logical thought can clearly see that it makes no sense to cap our achievements of the last decade by resting on our laurels and allowing the up-and-coming generation to shirk their natural progression. Not only is the Hungarian government more likely than its Western counterparts to openly call a spade a spade, but it has planned ahead. No matter how long you would like to remain a child, there comes a time when we all have to grow up. The Hungarian government has put policies into place which help Hungarians from birth to standing on their own two feet as young adults.
This truly is a policy which benefits us all.