A Pew study released late last week reveals more young adults — 21.6 million — are living at home with their parents than at any time in America’s history.
Perhaps that’s to be expected, since the Nation’s overall population continues, gradually, to grow. But the study also found that a higher proportion of the young adult population is living back at home than at any time immediately before, during or after the 2008 recession.
In fact, the 36 percent of young “millennials” living with parents represents the highest ratio in more than 40 years, when the culture of the nuclear family in the United States was far more dominant. Live-at-home data reaching farther into the past than 1968 doesn’t exist, so there’s no way to know if today’s statistics reflect a true all-time high for the Nation.
The study, which analyzed information drawn from a March follow-up survey augmenting the 2010 census, found that 32 percent of millennial adults lived with parents in 2007. That’s a number that had remained relatively consistent since 1968.
By the “official” end of the recession in 2009, the number had risen to 34 percent. In 2012, despite repeated chirpy proclamations from the White House that the economy is in recovery mode, the number had climbed past 36 percent.
The economy heads a list of three key factors the Pew researchers credit for fueling the “crash-with-mom” trend.
The steady rise in the share of young adults who live in their parents’ home appears to be driven by a combination of economic, educational and cultural factors. Among them:
- Declining employment. In 2012, 63% of 18- to 31-year-olds had jobs, down from the 70% of their same-aged counterparts who had jobs in 2007. In 2012, unemployed Millennials were much more likely than employed Millennials to be living with their parents (45% versus 29%).
- Rising college enrollment. In March 2012, 39% of 18- to 24-year-olds were enrolled in college, up from 35% in March 2007. Among 18 to 24 year olds, those enrolled in college were much more likely than those not in college to be living at home – 66% versus 50%.
- Declining marriage. In 2012 just 25% of Millennials were married, down from the 30% of 18- to 31-year-olds who were married in 2007. Today’s unmarried Millennials are much more likely than married Millennials to be living with their parents (47% versus 3%).
Comparing today’s family demographic trends with those of 1968 also revealed that singles with children and cohabitation between unmarried partners are both way up (from 5.5 percent to 26 percent), and the number of married spouses sharing a home is way down (from 56 percent to 27 percent).