She is right, of course, in the strictest sense of independence as an individualistic or even lonely pursuit; but in an era of widespread anxiety for the demise of family values (and there are many positive ones), there may be another way of looking at this. If one looks at a family as a unit, at a time of scarcity, reducing consumption is an entirely rational economic response. Sharing arrangements are undoubtedly more efficient than single setups. The reasons for considering a flatshare of four or five entirely unrelated young people as being independent, and a family of five continuing to share a roof until circumstances change not, are largely cultural. Clearly, each arrangement has advantages and disadvantages.
During times of economic hardship the last thing we should be doing is superimposing guilt or a sense of failure on families unwilling or unable to fragment. It is simplistic and naive to suggest that all these young people are a burden to their parents. Contrary to the generalisations contained in the report, the extension of the family unit beyond the rather arbitrary age of majority may be beneficial to both parents and children, both financially and psychologically.
It seems to me a huge leap and a projection of very specific values to assume that all parents roll their eyes and sigh with exasperation at the news of a child coming back to live with them. Many smile and embrace them with deep satisfaction – not at the circumstances which have forced this, but with relief and gratitude that familial love can provide a safety net. One of the results of the crisis in Greece has been that many cannot afford fees for nursing homes, for instance. Many of the younger people living at home actually look after their elderly parents.