July 25, 2016

A recent Pew Research Center report showed that for the first time in modern history, adults aged 18 to 34 are more likely to be living with parents rather than having their own house with a spouse or partner.

It’s a slim margin (32.1 percent with parents vs. 31.6 percent living independently), but the shift is huge on a macro level because it’s the highest percentage on record. What’s worse is another 22 percent of respondents were living with another family member like a grandparent, sibling or in-law.

All told, more than 54 percent of Americans aged 18 to 34 are living with family of some sort instead of by themselves. It’s quite different from days gone by (like when I grew up), when young people were chomping at the bit to get out on their own.

What’s causing it?

That’s a loaded question in some ways because of how many different factors can keep someone from becoming a homeowner.

There’s been a long-running decline in marriages, The Great Recession hurt many people financially, and for those without college degrees, job prospects aren’t as good as in the past. Plus, rents are up, student debt is high, and of course, the economy is subpar at best.

As a result, people concentrate on education and work, not on family.

The Pew findings attribute the change primarily to the decrease in marriages/co-habitation before age 35. Perhaps that’s the first domino to fall?

Consider that in 1960, 62 percent of respondents were living independently – the highest rate on record. It’s decreased steadily since then.

Whatever the reasons, this trend hampers the economy. And do we need any more of that? We need more upward economic movement, and maybe it starts with kids leaving the nest.