Sociology Index


Those parents who have seen their children mature and establish residences of their own are called empty nesters. Sociologists have noted a number of changes related to empty nesters stage of the family life cycle. In the United States and some other advanced country cultures, empty nesters syndrome was common. Movement to smaller homes can be responsible for the phenomenon of increasing number of empty nesters. Research has proved that parents with children are happier than those without any kids only when they become empty-nesters. Although the total number of Empty Nesters in both Europe and the US is forecasted to grow, it is Early Empty Nesters who are mostly driving this groups growth. Datamonitors survey shows that Empty Nesters across Europe and the US are more inclined to borrow than their senior counterparts. European Empty Nesters are the most inclined towards borrowing.

What is empty nest syndrome?
“Empty nest syndrome is that feeling of emptiness, anxiety and loss that fills you after your children leave your home and make their way out in the world,” family therapist Paul Hokemeyer, PhD, tells Health.

Why are parents comparatively happy as empty-nesters. German researchers looked at data from a European survey that asked 55,000 people aged 50 and older about their emotional well-being. Led by Christoph Becker at Heidelberg University in Germany, researchers found that parents were happier, but only after their children had moved out. These empty-nesters experienced less symptoms of depression and greater joy in life. Becker told New Scientist it could be that children now lend their parents much needed support. The study adds that maintaining a relationship with children may stave off loneliness. 


But now the new reality of a Cluttered Nest or "crowded nest", is capturing the phenomenon of young adults returning to live with their parents or choosing to remain at home past the customary age for leaving home. Women are returning to paid work forcing the creation of empty nests. Changes in attitudes and changes in relations to children are pushing parents to become empty nesters.

With globalization the world will see a greater number of empty nesters. Even in a country like India where joint family has been the norm, the number of empty nesters has increased dramatically. By 2009 there were 181 million consumers in Europe and the US classified as Empty Nesters. One of the major changes which occurs to most Empty Nesters is the increase in socializing.

Empty Nesters engage in 51 million Entertaining At-home occasions per year in Europe and 26 million per year in the US. This high level of socializing leads to new consumer culture. Age affects Empty Nesters' habits and their needs, motivations and attitudes change with time. A lot has changed within two generations, and now the empty nesters don't see why they should miss out on what didn't exist when they were younger. Empty Nesters have also developed new purchasing habits as they adjust to their new freedom. For empty nesters, life seems to begin at 50. Young-at-heart empty nesters are increasingly looking to travel.

Communicating with Empty Nesters is important since they resent being ignored by marketers who focus on younger consumers. When communicating with Empty Nesters, companies need to avoid being patronizing and applying common stereotype. Improve acquisition and retention rates by gaining a detailed understanding of the consumption attitudes and behaviours of Empty Nesters. Design innovative products by learning of gaps in the market where existing strategies are not meeting the needs and wants of Empty Nesters.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Empty Nesters: 101 Stories about Surviving and Thriving When the Kids Leave Home – October 7, 2008. by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Carol McAdoo Rehme, Patricia Cena Evans.
Empty Nesters... You have the whole nest to yourself... and that’s not bad! You’ll appreciate these 101 stories about surviving and thriving when the kids leave home. This terrific book for empty nesters or soon-to-be empty nesters contains 101 stories written by parents who have been there already and share their experiences.