Demographic shifts in marital status, level of education and employment have transformed the way young adults in the U.S. are living. A Pew Research Center analysis of census data highlights the implications of these changes in young adults’ living arrangements.
In 2014, adults aged between 18 and 34 were more likely to be living in their parents’ home than with a spouse or partner in their own household. This turn of events is caused primarily by the dramatic drop of young U.S. Americans who are choosing to settle down romantically before age 35.
The study found that 31.6 percent of young adults were living with a spouse or partner in their own household, while 32.1 percent preferred living with their parents.
Up to 14 percent of young adults were heading up a household in which they lived alone, were a single parent or lived with one or more roommates. The remaining 22 percent lived in the home of another family member or a non-relative, or in group quarters (for example college dormitories).
Among young adults, living arrangements differ significantly by gender. For men between 18 and 34, living at home with parents is the dominant living arrangement. For their part, young women are more likely to be living with a spouse or romantic partner. This is mainly because women are more likely than men to be single parents living with their children.
A variety of factors contribute to the long-run increase in the share of young adults living with their parents. The first is the postponement of marriage. While cohabitation has been on the rise, the overall share of young adults either married or living with an unmarried partner has substantially fallen since 1990.
Trends in both employment status and wages have likely contributed to the growing share of young adults who are living in the home of their parents. In 2014, only 71 percent of 18- to 34-year-old men were employed.
Educational attainment, race and ethnicity linked to young adult living arrangements
Beyond gender, young adults’ living arrangements differ considerably by education and racial and ethnic background. For young adults without a bachelor’s degree, living at home with their parents is more prevalent than living with a romantic partner. Among college graduates, in 2014, 46 percent were married or living with a partner, and only 19 percent were living with their parents.
Among racial and ethnic groups, such as black young adults and Hispanics, living with mom and dad is now the most common arrangement. They lag behind young whites both in terms of educational attainment and employment status.