More Young Adults Live With Parents Than Their Partners—for the First Time in 130 Years

Millennials have come of age amid the bursting of the housing bubble, perpetual war and the Great Recession.

Photo Credit: / SpeedKingz

Live with your parents again? Chances are you’re not lazy, or a loser, or any other stigma that might be hovering in your subconscious due to cultural stereotyping; you’re just a normal millennial responding to the economic realities of the age. For the first time in 130 years, more Americans between ages 18-34 are living with their parents than in any other living situation. That is according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center published May 24 based on national census data from 2014.

The analysis notes that 2014 didn’t represent a record high number of young adults living with their parents.

”This arrangement peaked around 1940, when about 35 percent of the nation’s 18- to 34-year-olds lived with mom and/or dad (compared with 32 percent in 2014). What has changed, instead, is the relative share adopting different ways of living in early adulthood, with the decline of romantic coupling pushing living at home to the top of a much less uniform list of living arrangements.”

The report explains that by 2014,

“31.6 percent 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 percent). Some 14 percent 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 percent 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).”

Some people may learn about this trend and scoff at the laziness and petulance of those darn millennials who just can’t seem to get it together. But their scoffing has its roots in misplaced frustrations and an ignorance of the economic realities that come with being a young adult today.

Pew opens its analysis with the following précis of the situation: "Broad demographic shifts in marital status, educational attainment and employment have transformed the way young adults in the U.S. are living."

Yep. Right now is the worst time in the country’s history to be a renter, according to statistics reported last year by the real estate database Zillow. As I wrote in a recent AlterNet story:

"Rents have never taken up this much of the American paycheck. Mortgage prices have remained relatively stable over the last several years, while rent has skyrocketed. A Bloomberg article points out that the cost of homeownership is actually at a historic low, while the rate of homeownership is also lower than it has been in years. With home ownership is at its lowest rate in five years, apartment living has become increasingly competitive and some landlords appear to be taking advantage of the situation."

Astronomical student loan debt is hovering over the heads of millions of young collegiates and graduates. A Time article reported in January on “Why the Student Loan Crisis Is Even Worse Than People Think," noted that “more than 25 percent of students who take on college debt are graduating with way too much of it," and the situation is worsening.

The Bildungsroman of the millennials is set to the bursting of the housing market bubble and an economy steered by and large by (arguably) the most crooked banksters in history and a government that has made its priorities clear by bailing out those rich crooks with just about zero consequences for screwing over average Americans (along with the entire nation's fiscal stability). It is a coming-of-age story that takes place during the worst recession on record since the Great Depression. Millennials have lived the majority of their lives during a constant overseas war depleting and steering national funding priorities. They are facing one of the toughest job markets on record and a wackjob GOP that wants to starve or eliminate the few social programs left in this country—programs that keep many people adrift in their most difficult times, e.g. food stamps, Planned Parenthood and the list goes on.

The Pew report also notes a “dramatic” social trend away from settling down romantically before 35 as a primary reason young adults are living with mom and dad. It states:

"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 percent 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. ...By 2014, 31.6 percent 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 percent)."

I’d argue the various trends are interconnected. If, for instance, you’ve gone to college only to accrue heaping debt, can’t find a job in a related field, the job you do have pays less than a living wage ($15/hour), you can’t afford to live on your own because rents are worse than ever, and you've got nothing saved up for a downpayment on a house, you're probably less than inspired to settle down nuclear family-style and raise some kids behind a picket fence. 

Read the full Pew report.

April M. Short is a freelance writer who focuses on health, wellness and social justice. She previously worked as AlterNet's drugs and health editor. 

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