First, parents were bankrolling their 20-something children, paying tuition bills for private colleges, globe-trotting adventures and rent after college. Then the 30-something offspring needed down payments, money for their own children’s summer camp, cars and school tuition. What next? If their net worth hasn’t been devastated by the recession, will these parents who reach their 70s and 80s be subsidizing their children’s retirement?

True, this largess only applies to a minority of the population, so the effects — economic, social as well as psychological — are hard to predict.

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