Millennials Are Increasingly Living With Mom And Dad In The U.S., But They Don't Beat Canada

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The United States now has more young adults living with mom and dad than it did at any time since the Great Depression.

But that's still not as many as the young adults who live with their parents in Canada — proportionally speaking.

Data released by the Pew Research Center this week shows that 32.1 per cent of U.S. adults aged 18 to 34 were living in their parents' homes in 2014.

And though more young adults were living with their parents in 1940 (35 per cent), 2014 still marked the first recorded time that such a living arrangement was the most common one among this age group.

living with parents

Why is this happening?

Senior researcher Richard Fry identified three main factors that are keeping millennials in the family home.

One is marriage: fewer and fewer Americans are settling down than they used to, based on data going all the way back to 1880.

Back then, 45 per cent of young adults at this age lived as married or cohabiting couples in their own households, while 30 per cent still lived with their parents.

wedding
Millennials just don't marry like people used to do. (Photo: Wander Women Collective/Getty Images)

Married households peaked at 62 per cent among this group in 1960. Twenty per cent of young adults lived with mom and dad in that same year.

But two years ago, only 31.6 per cent of young adults were living in married or cohabiting households, compared to 32.1 of young American adults who were living with their parents.

Meanwhile, 14 per cent were living alone or as single parents — again, the highest rate ever recorded in data going back to 1880.

"Hard work doesn't pay off for young adults in the same way it did a generation ago."-- Paul Kershaw, UBC School of Population and Public Health

It's the economy

But marriage wasn't the only factor affecting millennials' living situations.

The Pew Research Center found that incomes and employment statuses were also keeping them in the family home — especially men.

The report showed that young men with jobs were far less likely to live with their parents than those who were unemployed — and unemployment has risen dramatically in that group in the last five decades.

Employment among young men peaked at 84 per cent around 1960, and it has since fallen to 71 per cent. Wages have fallen in tandem.

All told, young American men were more likely to live with their parents (35 per cent) than they were to be married and living with a spouse (28 per cent).

young men

But the opposite was true of women.

The study noted that 29 per cent of women were living in their parents' homes in 2014, compared to 35 per cent who were married or cohabiting.

The Great Recession

The financial crisis that began in 2008 was also cited as an influence on living arrangements — although more young adults were already living in the family home by that time.

The report noted that 28 per cent of young adults were living with their parents in 2007, before the recession started, compared to 20 per cent in 1960.

But the financial meltdown nevertheless had an impact on living arrangements, it said. College enrollment went up in the wake of the recession, and the number of young adults living with their parents increased in turn.

Job opportunities were also more scarce in the wake of the recession, so young adults waited it out at home.

Can't beat Canada

The numbers came as little surprise to Paul Kershaw, a professor in UBC's School of Population and Public Health, and spokesman for Generation Squeeze, an organization that advocates on behalf of millennials.

"Hard work doesn't pay off for young adults in the same way it did a generation ago," he told The Huffington Post Canada.

"And as a result, it's way more difficult to establish their own financial foundations. Hence, they stay at home longer with their aging parents, and their aging parents are willing to make that adaptation."

Canada couldn't be beat when it came to young adults living with mom and dad, proportionally speaking — although this group wasn't quite counted the same way, or for the same years, as they were by the Pew Center.

canada young adults home

Data from the 2011 census shows that 59.4 per cent of young adults aged 20 to 24 were living with their parents that year. That was down only 0.2 per cent from 2006, but still higher than in any year going back to 1981.

Meanwhile, 25.2 per cent of 25-to-29-year-olds were living with mom and dad in 2011, up from 24.7 per cent five years prior.

Kershaw said Canadians are facing similar financial challenges that Americans are — but they're also facing accelerating housing costs.

Earlier this week, Generation Squeeze released a study showing that Canadians today have to spend many more years saving up for a down payment than their parents did.

down payment

Kershaw stopped short of making firm predictions, but he saw it as unlikely that the next Canadian census would show fewer young adults living with their parents.

"There's no reason to expect [we will] begin returning to what we saw a generation ago," he said.

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