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By Martha C. White
November 11, 2015

We’ve been calling them “boomerang kids” for a solid decade now, but the label apparently hasn’t motivated today’s young adults to move out of their childhood bedrooms.

A new study of 2014 Census Bureau data by the Pew Research Center finds that about 36% of women between the ages of 18 and 34, and roughly 43% of men in the same age bracket still live with their parents or other relatives — the highest percentage since the 1940s. What happened? It’s a question social scientists have been knocking themselves out to answer for years, and there’s no shortage of theories: Coddled millennials can’t bear the thought of living in a dumpy apartment with roommates and living on ramen, or they’re too emotionally immature to leave the nest, in spite of being better-educated than any generation in history.

Other possible reasons are a little more charitable towards young adults: That education comes with piles of student debt their parents never had to contend with, their coming of age in the worst recession since the Great Depression made it harder to find jobs and stunted the early career aspirations of many, while an out-of-whack real estate market still makes it nearly impossible to buy a home in many parts of the country. Higher rates of college attendance and later-in-life marriages also play a role keeping millennials at home, Pew says.

The report did not offer an explanation, however, for why a higher percentage of young men live at home than women.

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