By Gail MarksJarvis
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) According to an analysis of Census data by the Pew Research Center, adults between 18 and 34 are more likely to live with a parent than to get married or move in with a romantic partner. The tendency to live with parents grew during and after the 2008 Great Recession, as weak pay and job opportunities weighed on young adults.
In a dramatic culture change, living with mom and dad has become the most common arrangement for young adults — especially men.
Adults between 18 and 34 are more likely to live with a parent than to get married or move in with a romantic partner, according to an analysis of Census data by the Pew Research Center. The researchers note that it’s the first time in more than 130 years in which young adults have chosen their parents’ homes over living on their own in a relationship.
In 2014, 32.1 percent of young adults were living with a parent, while 31.6 percent were living in what Pew calls a romantic relationship — either with a spouse or a partner.
About 35 percent of young men were living in a home with a parent, compared with 29 percent of women in parents’ homes. More women tend to live with a spouse or partner — 35 percent.
Apart from living with parents or a partner, another 14 percent of 18 to 34-year-olds were living alone, heading a household as a single parent, or sharing a residence with roommates. An additional 22 percent lived with other family members, such as grandparents, or were in college dormitories or other group quarters.
The tendency to live with parents grew during and after the 2008 Great Recession, as weak pay and job opportunities weighed on young adults, said Pew. But the researchers say the trend was growing before the recession and a major driver is a retreat from marriage and even a decline in living with a partner without being married. Although living together has been on the rise for young adults for years, the trend has “substantially fallen since 1990.”
One in four of today’s young adults may never marry, Pew projects.
The decline in young adults setting up their own households has implications for the U.S. economy because people tend not to buy major items for homes that are already well-equipped. Sales of everything from refrigerators to pots and pans and lawn mowers can be affected, and the lack of demand weighs on companies and potentially the people they hire.
In a separate recent report titled “Missing Young Adult Households,” the National Association of Home Builders attributes a lack of demand for single-family homes to millennials living with mothers and fathers after graduating from college or high school. That study said 20 percent of people born 1981 to 1996 were living with parents.
Pew notes that poor employment and pay seems to be a factor in men living at home with parents. “Employed young men are much less likely to live at home than young men without a job,” said Pew economist Richard Fry.
The share of young men with jobs peaked around 1960, when 84 percent were employed. In 2014, Pew found only 71 percent of 18- to 34-year-old men working. Pay for young men has been declining — after factoring in the impact of inflation on buying power — since 1970, said Fry. Pay declines were significant from 2000 to 2010.
Meanwhile, young women have been more likely than men to head their own households without living with a spouse or partner, according to the research. About 16 percent of women are heading up a household compared with only 13 percent of men.
The largest group of people who are married or living with a partner includes college graduates, Pew said. Only 19 percent of them were living with parents, compared with 46 percent living with a spouse or partner. Whites also were more likely to be living with a spouse or partner than blacks or Hispanics.
Pew notes that for young African-Americans, living with mom and/or dad is now the most common arrangement. Only 17 percent were living with a spouse or partner. For Hispanics, living with parents was also the dominant arrangement.
Although more whites were living with a spouse or partner, Pew found the general trend away from relationships and living with parents similar for all major racial and ethnic groups.
Yet the share of young Americans living with parents has not yet reached its previous peak. In 1940, 35 percent of the nation’s 18- to 34-year-olds were doing so, according to Pew.