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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Coming Apart, Staying at Home

Pew reports that in 2014, for the first time in more than 130 years, adults under 35 were more likely to live with their parents (31.1 percent) than with a spouse or partner (31.6 percent).  The underlying reasons involve ominous trends of declining marriage and employment rates.
A variety of factors contribute to the long-run increase in the share of young adults living with their parents. The first is the postponement of, if not retreat from, marriage. The median age of first marriage has risen steadily for decades. In addition, a growing share of young adults may be eschewing marriage altogether. A previous Pew Research Center analysis projected that as many as one-in-four of today’s young adults may never marry. While cohabitation has been on the rise, the overall share of young adults either married or living with an unmarried partner has substantially fallen since 1990.
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....

The Great Recession (and modest recovery) has also been associated with an increase in young adults living at home. Initially in the wake of the recession, college enrollments expanded, boosting the ranks of young adults living at home. And given the weak job opportunities facing young adults, living at home was part of the private safety net helping young adults to weather the economic storm.
For young adults without a bachelor’s degree, as of 2008 living at home with their parents was more prevalent than living with a romantic partner. By 2014, 36% of 18- to 34-year-olds who had not completed a bachelor’s degree were living with their parent(s) while 27% were living with a spouse or partner. Among college graduates, in 2014 46% were married or living with a partner, and only 19% were living with their parent(s). Young adults with a college degree have fared much betterin the labor market than their less-educated counterparts, which has in turn made it easier to establish their own households.