Young women are living with their parents or relatives at a rate not seen since 1940 as more millennial women put off marriage, attend college and face high living expenses.
A Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data found that 36.4 percent of women between the ages 18 and 34 lived with parents or relatives in 2014, the most since at least 1940, when 36.2 percent lived with family.
It is a very different world for women now, though, despite the “return to the past, statistically speaking,” says Richard Fry, a senior economist at Pew.
Fry says young women are staying home now because they are half as likely to be married as they were in 1940 and much more likely to be college-educated. Economic forces such as increasing student debt, higher living costs and economic uncertainty, are also playing a role.
Casey Ballard, 29, was living in Portland, Oregon, but rent ate up roughly two-thirds of her paycheck and she was ready for a career change. A September move back with family in California allowed her to try out teaching as a substitute, and now she plans to pursue teaching full-time.
“There was that element of frustration and feeling like a failure,” she says about returning home. “But then the logical side of me kicked in and said ‘It’s just fiscally responsible.’”
Young men have historically lived with parents at higher rates than young women, and similar economic and cultural forces are keeping an increasing number of men at home too in recent years. But the rate young men are staying home with their parents and relatives, 42.8 percent, remains below the 47.5 percent level for men in 1940.
The percentage of young men and women living with family fell after the 1940s as more women joined the workforce, the overall workforce expanded, and marriage rates increased.
But while marriage was once the life event that triggered a move out of the family home, it is now coming later with each generation, if it comes at all. The median age of marriage for women is now 27, up from 21.5 in 1940. For men, it is 29.3, up from 24.3 in 1940.
Young women and men began staying home or returning there at a more rapid rate after 2000, a trend that sharply increased with the economic uncertainty brought on by the housing collapse and recession in the late 2000s.