For the first time since records have been kept, the most common domestic arrangement for young American adults aged 18-34 is living in their parents’ home, and fewer than 32% are residing independently with a spouse or partner. This represents a major shift from 1960 when only 20% of this age group lived with their parents and 62% lived with a “romantic partner,” as the Pew Research Center refers to wives, husbands, and significant others.
Today, who is back at home or never left? More single young men live with their parents than do single young women; the less educated are also more likely to be found there than are their college-educated counterparts; and young adult blacks and Hispanics have been part of this movement since 1980. But the overall trend is the same for every demographic group — living with parents is increasingly common. Moreover, it’s a worldwide trend: the number of young adults living with their parents is now 49% in Japan, 48% in the European Union, 42% in Canada, and 29% in Australia. All these figures are up from 20 years ago.
The conventional wisdom is that everything changed with the Great Recession, which began in 2007 and has made a slow and uneven recovery ever since. However, the rise in the number of young adults living at home started before the economic crash — and so did the possible contributing factors. Male unemployment has been on the rise for decades, according to the Pew Research Center, and those who have jobs having been making less than they would have in their parents' day adjusted for inflation. But the main reason for the shift cited by Pew is that fewer young people are getting married. Even accounting for the increased popularity of cohabitation, they say there are just fewer paired-up 20-somethings and 30-somethings than there used to be. The median age at marriage has been rising for decades and a growing share of the Millennials are eschewing marriage altogether. Pew projects that fully one in four of today’s young adults 18-34 may never get married, which does not bode well for those parents who long to be empty nesters at last.
In future posts we’ll drill down on different aspects of the parent/young adult dynamic. As we do please share your personal experiences with your 18-34 year-old who is at school, in your home, or living alone.
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