More 18- to 34-year-olds live with their parents than any other arrangement

More "fundamental transformation" courtesy of Barack Obama.

A new survey from Pew Research reveals the startling information that more 18- to 34-year-olds are living at home than any other living arrangement.

Part of the reason is that this generation is marrying much later than its parents.  But the poor economy is also to blame, as this generation is not able to get good enough jobs to afford living on its own.

Broad demographic shifts in marital status, educational attainment and employment have transformed the way young adults in the U.S. are living, and a new Pew Research Center analysis of census data highlights the implications of these changes for the most basic element of their lives – where they call home. In 2014, for the first time in more than 130 years, adults ages 18 to 34 were slightly more likely to be living in their parents’ home than they were to be living with a spouse or partner in their own household. 1

This turn of events is fueled primarily by the dramatic drop in the share of young Americans who are choosing to settle down romantically before age 35. Dating back to 1880, the most common living arrangement among young adults has been living with a romantic partner, whether a spouse or a significant other. This type of arrangement peaked around 1960, when 62% of the nation’s 18- to 34-year-olds were living with a spouse or partner in their own household, and only one-in-five were living with their parents. 2

By 2014, 31.6% of young adults were living with a spouse or partner in their own household, below the share living in the home of their parent(s) (32.1%). Some 14% of young adults were heading up a household in which they lived alone, were a single parent or lived with one or more roommates. The remaining 22% lived in the home of another family member (such as a grandparent, in-law or sibling), a non-relative, or in group quarters (college dormitories fall into this category).

These figures mask a massive cultural shift.  It used to be that young people couldn't wait to cut the apron strings, find a good man or woman, get married, settle down, and have children. 

But when the whole concept of "dating" has been overturned to be replaced by "hooking up," romantic involvement with another has taken a back seat.  Also, young women especially do not feel the pressure that was felt by females a generation ago to get married by the time they're 30. 

There are also economic factors at work:

In addition, trends in both employment status and wages have likely contributed to the growing share of young adults who are living in the home of their parent(s), and this is especially true of young men. Employed young men are much less likely to live at home than young men without a job, and employment among young men has fallen significantly in recent decades. The share of young men with jobs peaked around 1960 at 84%. In 2014, only 71% of 18- to 34-year-old men were employed. Similarly with earnings, young men’s wages (after adjusting for inflation) have been on a downward trajectory since 1970 and fell significantly from 2000 to 2010. As wages have fallen, the share of young men living in the home of their parent(s) has risen.

Economic factors seem to explain less of why young adult women are increasingly likely to live at home. Generally, young women have had growing success in the paid labor market since 1960 and hence might increasingly be expected to be able to afford to live independently of their parents. For women, delayed marriage—which is related, in part, to labor market outcomes for men—may explain more of the increase in their living in the family home.

The disastrous job prospects for young men is a direct result of the nearly nonexistent economic recovery.  But  there is less pressure for young men to work if they can live at home.  Possessing a bachelors degree is not the gateway to a good job it once was.  Most high-paying professional positions now demand a specialized degree or some kind of graduate school.  While continuing their education, the young prefer to live at home.

This trend is likely to continue as long as economic growth is stifled.  Good jobs encourage independence among young people and, married or not, young men and women would almost certainly prefer a different living arrangement from staying with their parents.

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