A First in the Modern Era, More Young Americans Live with Parents Than With Lovers
For the first time in more than 130 years, more American young adults are living with their parents than with a romantic partner, marking a significant shift in societal trends as financial prospects for young men have worsened while marriage has been in decline overall.
As of 2014, according to a report from the Pew Research Center out Tuesday using data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau, 32.1% of Americans ages 18 to 34 were living with one or both parents, compared to 31.6% living with a spouse or partner, the first time since 1880 that more young Americans lived with mom and dad than with a partner.
The change is less the result of an increase in young Americans living with their parents, which peaked in 1940 at 35%, than of the decline in marriage overall. In 1960, the portion of young Americans living with a partner peaked at 62%, the same year the share living with parents bottomed out at about 20%. Living with mom and dad has increased more or less steadily ever since, while living with a romantic partner has plummeted, as young people delay marriage or forgo the institution altogether.
Pew estimates that as many as a quarter of young adults today will never marry, a shift owing to numerous factors, including adults choosing to marry later in life, changing public attitudes, and a decline in economic prospects among young men, for whom employment peaked around 1960 at 84% and fell to 71% by 2014. That’s a stark contrast to young women, for whom economic prospects have improved in the last 50 years. Inflation-adjusted earnings for young men have also fallen substantially since 1970, leading more of them to live with parents rather than a spouse.
Another cause of the shift in living arrangements among young Americans is a rise in other non-traditional living arrangements for the unattached, like living alone or with a non-parent relative (this includes being a single parent), which grew substantially in the last 20 years, and living with roommates in a group setting, which hit a nadir in the middle of the last century but as of 2014 has risen to 22%, near its historical peak.