In 2014, for the first time in more than 130 years, adults 18 to 34 were more likely to be living in their parents’ home than they were to be living with a spouse or partner in their own household (Fry, 2016). The current trend is that young Americans are not choosing to settle down romantically before age 35. Since 1880, living with a romantic partner was the most common living arrangement among young adults. In 1960, 62% of America’s 18- to 34-year-olds were living with a spouse or partner in their own household, while only 20% were living with their parents.
By 2014, 31.6% of early adults were living with a spouse or partner in their own household, while 32.1% were living in the home of their parent(s). Another 14% of early adults 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 (e.g., college dormitories). Comparing ethnic groups, 36% of black and Hispanic early adults lived at home, while 30% of white young adults lived at home.
As can be seen in Figure 7.5, gender differences in living arrangements are also noted in that young men are living with parents at a higher rate than young women. In 2014, 35% of young me were residing with their parents, while 28% were living with a spouse or partner in their own household. Young women were more likely to be living with a spouse or partner (35%) than living with their parents (29%). Additionally, more young women (16%) than young men (13%) were heading up a household without a spouse or partner, primarily because women are more likely to be single parents living with their children. Lastly, young men (25%) are more likely than young women (19%) to be living in the home of another family member, a non-relative, or in some type of group quarters (Fry, 2016).
What are some factors that help explain these changes in living arrangements? First, early adults are postponing marriage or choosing not to marry or cohabitate. Lack of employment and lower wages have especially contributed to males residing with their parents. Men who are employed are less likely to live at home. Wages for young men (adjusting for inflation) have been falling since 1970 and correlate with the rise in young men living with their parents. The recent recession and recovery (2007-present) has also contributed to the increase in early adults living at home. College enrollments increased during the recession, which further increased early adults living at home. However, once early adults possess a college degree, they are more likely to establish their own households (Fry, 2016).