Teenagers aren't on the move. That's the theme of a New York Times Opinion piece by Todd Buchholz and his daughter, Victoria Buchholz (he's a former director of White House economic policy and a writer, Rush: Why You Need and Love the Rat Race; and she's at work on a book about the neuropsychology of the teenage brain), "The Go-Nowhere Generation." (This editorial has generated a great deal of internet rebuttal, specifically focusing on the lack of research. The best is by Malcolm Harris, and can be read here.)
... sometime in the past 30 years, someone has hit the brakes and Americans — particularly young Americans — have become risk-averse and sedentary. The timing is terrible. With an 8.3 percent unemployment rate and a foreclosure rate that would grab the attention of the Joads, young Americans are less inclined to pack up and move to sunnier economic climes.
The likelihood of 20-somethings moving to another state has dropped well over 40 percent since the 1980s, according to calculations based on Census Bureau data. The stuck-at-home mentality hits college-educated Americans as well as those without high school degrees. According to the Pew Research Center, the proportion of young adults living at home nearly doubled between 1980 and 2008, before the Great Recession hit. Even bicycle sales are lower now than they were in 2000. Today’s generation is literally going nowhere. This is the Occupy movement we should really be worried about.
In the most startling behavioral change among young people since James Dean and Marlon Brando started mumbling, an increasing number of teenagers are not even bothering to get their driver’s licenses. Back in the early 1980s, 80% of 18-year-olds [had]... licenses, according to a study by researchers at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. By 2008 — even before the Great Recession — that number had dropped to 65%.
[From the Transportation Research Institute's report , issued last December, the breakdown by age group is even more interesting: About 87% of 19-year-olds in 1983 had their licenses, but 25 years later, that percentage had dropped to about 75%. Other teen driving groups have also declined: 18-year-olds fell from 80% in 1983 to 65% in 2008, 17-year-olds decreased from 69% to 50%, and 16-year-olds slipped from 46% to 31%...."It is possible that the availability of virtual contact through electronic means reduces the need for actual contact among young people," said UMTRI research professor Michael Sivak. "Furthermore, some young people feel that driving interferes with texting and other electronic communication."]
...Though it’s easy to blame the high cost of cars or gasoline, Comerica Bank’s Automobile Affordability Index shows that it takes fewer weeks of work income to buy a car today than in the early 1980s, and inflation-adjusted gasoline prices didn’t get out of line until a few years ago.