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).
The summary of the data keeps pointing to a shift in marital preferences for younger Americans, which seems a little odd. I come from a generation that didn’t place a premium on rushing from high school to marriage. We did, however, tend to rush out of our parents’ homes. Whether you got a job, went into the military, or went to college, hanging around mom and dad’s place wasn’t something I remember a lot of young people doing. Of course that’s not scientific, but it is worth noting.
This trend will probably only serve to fuel the progressive passions in the Bernie Sanders-esque millennials. It’s delayed adulthood, which makes delayed (or abdication of) responsibility attractive. Progressive Democrats will be able to make the “free stuff” sales pitches with even more success because they’ll be pitching to a demographic that is shielded from a lot of real-world experience.
Employment is also a factor. The unspoken media rule for the last few years is that they don’t really talk about how many people in America are unable to find work because that doesn’t fit into their Obama narrative (ALL GOOD, ALL THE TIME!). The young men most likely to live with mom and dad are also the ones who can’t find work.
Maybe, just maybe, that’s the reason they aren’t getting married.