More Adults Living With Parents Than Getting Married, Study Finds

More adults are living with their parents than getting married in what is shaping up to be a dramatic societal step away from the traditional, nuclear family, a new study from the Pew Research Center finds.

“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,” Pew said in their findings. “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.”

The peak of adults living together in a married relationship hit its peak around 1960, when 62 percent of adults aged 18-34 fit this classification. At the time, only one in five adults in that age range were still living with their parents.

But that trend has been reversed: in 2014, the most recent year when fresh statistics were available, 32.1 percent of adults aged 18-34 were still living at home, while 31.6 percent “were living with a spouse or partner,” Pew said, while 14 percent live alone or with one or more roommates.

The Pew study noted, however, that this is not the first time that more adults were still living with their parents; in 1940, as America saw the Great Depression coming to an end, 35 percent of adults aged 18-34 were still living at home versus 32.1 percent today. The difference now, Pew found, “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 trend is more likely for men than women, the study found; in fact, “living at home with mom and/or dad has been the dominant living arrangement since 2009.” In 2014, 28 percent of men aged 18-34 were married, to 35 percent who still lived with their parents; a four-to-five ratio.

Women in that age range, however, are more likely to be married or living with someone while in a romantic relationship (35 percent) than to still be living with their parents (29 percent).

While the number of adult children staying at home was not an all-time high for whites, it was for African-Americans and Hispanics. For blacks, 36 percent of those aged 18-34 were still living with their parents, compared to 17 percent who lived with a “romantic partner.” Among Hispanics, the numbers were 30 percent living in a marriage or co-habitation, with 36 percent still living at home.

Why Are More Adults Still Living With Their Parents?

Granted, there are always exceptions to the norm: some children may have disabilities to which their parents can uniquely care for. It has also not been unheard of for victims of divorce or some other tragedy to move back in with their parents for a period of time. But the numbers documented by Pew show a growing trend. So, what is behind it?

Pew analyzed the reasons, and found that the most likely is “the postponement of, if not retreat from, marriage,” noting that the median marrying age has “risen steadily for decades.” Another Pew study found that one out of every five adults age 25 and older has never been married.

Another reason is employment and wages. “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,” Pew said, adding that “the Great Recession” of 2008 was a contributing factor for young men not moving out on their own. But at the same time, this trend of adult children staying with their parents preceded the 2008 economic collapse.

Adult children not growing up
Adult children are not growing up and moving out of the house, Pew Research finds. [Image by Shutterstock]

Education is another major factor in determining whether young adults will stay with their parents, or move out: of those who had not graduated with a Bachelor’s degree, 36 percent were still living with their parents, while 27 percent had moved out.

“Young adults with a college degree have fared much better in the labor market than their less-educated counterparts, which has in turn made it easier to establish their own households,” Pew stated.

What do you think? Is it good or bad that more adults are still living with their parents? Be sure to give us your thoughts in the comments section below.

[Image by Shutterstock]