(Bloomberg) — Those basement-dwelling millennials are at it again.
In 2014, Americans 18 to 34 years old were a little bit likelier to be living in their parents’ home than with a spouse or partner in their own household, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, released on Tuesday. It’s the first time that has happened in the modern era.
Young men have long been more likely than their female counterparts to be roommates with mom and/or dad. The share of young men living in their parents’ homes most recently surpassed the share living with partners in their own households in 2009, but as of 2014, the crossover still hadn’t occurred for young women.
Still, the proportions of both male and female 18- to 34-year-olds living at home are high — 35 percent for the men, 29 percent for the women — and have grown in recent years, while the shares of those living with partners have plummeted.
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A similar story emerges when the data are broken down by education. Young adults without bachelor’s degrees are more likely to live in their parents’ homes, which in 2008 became more common than residing with partners did.
By ethnicity, living with parents overtook living with a spouse or unmarried partner in 1980 for young blacks, in 2007 for young American Indians/Alaska natives, and in 2011 for young Hispanics. Young whites and Asians/Pacific Islanders were still more likely to live with partners in 2014.
“Trends in living arrangements for specific groups of young adults indicate that the crossover is being driven by the experiences of more economically disadvantaged young adults, specifically, less-educated young adults and some racial and ethnic minorities,” the report says.
Indeed, while the overall proportion of 18- to 34-year-olds living with their parents didn’t peak in 2014 — that occurred around 1940 — the shares of young blacks and Hispanics (as well as young people without high school degrees) living with parents were at their highest in recorded history.
What accounts for this meeting of trend lines — the recent rise in the percentage of young adults living with parents and the decline in those living with spouses or unmarried partners?
The increase in the median age at first marriage for both men and women plays a big part. Another likely (and related) factor is the decline over the last several decades in both the share of employed young men and the level of their wages. The picture isn’t quite as clear for young women, who have seen their labor-market prospects improve, but those struggling young men may not be the most appealing partners.
The report also notes that “initially in the wake of the recession, college enrollments expanded, boosting the ranks of young adults living at home. And given the weak job opportunities facing young adults, living at home was part of the private safety net helping young adults to weather the economic storm.”