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More millennials living with parents


About a third of all millennials still live with and rely financially on their parents as a result of evolving social norms and fallout from the worst recession in generations.

Younger Americans are increasingly putting off milestones like marriage, having a child and home-buying as they pursue education and job opportunities, according to a new report issued by U.S. Census Bureau demographer Jonathan Vespa.

That’s a shift from four decades ago, when more Americans viewed marriage and child-rearing as gateways to adulthood.

Those driving the change in priorities appear to be young women, who are much more likely to attain a college degree and a full-time job today than they were in 1976. On the other hand, young men are only slightly more likely to have attained a higher education and slightly less likely to be employed.

{mosads}The number of young adults who live at home with their parents has skyrocketed, especially in the last decade, as college costs have soared and the great recession has hurt job prospects.

In 2005, only 25 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 34 lived with their parents; today, that number is 34 percent. The number of young Americans living independently of their parents stands at 40.7 percent, down more than 10 percentage points from a decade ago.

Today, more people between the ages of 18 and 34 live with their parents, 22.9 million, than live with a spouse, 19.9 million. In 1975, more than twice as many people in the same age group lived with a spouse (31.9 million) than with their parents (14.7 million).

The declines in independent living are especially pronounced in states like Arizona, Florida, Nevada and Oregon, all places where the recession cratered both the job and housing markets. Home ownership rates have plummeted, too: In 1975, almost 52 percent of those between 25 and 34 owned their own home. Today, just 28.8 percent do.

The percentage of both men and women who marry at a young age has fallen precipitously in recent years: In 1976, 85 percent of women and 75 percent of men had been married by age 29. Today, only 46 percent of women and 32 percent of men said they were married before they turned 30. 

Women between the ages of 20 and 24 are now more likely to have a child, 25 percent, than to have been married, 17 percent.

Overall, the number of men and women marrying by older ages has remained virtually unchanged. That shows the average American’s chances of getting married remain almost the same, though their chances of marrying while young are dramatically smaller.

“Young adults are not necessarily giving up on marriage. They are waiting longer,” Vespa wrote.

Another factor responsible for later marriages: Cohabitation with a significant other, which has grown 12-fold over the last 40 years. Today, the average couple begins their first co-residential relationship at 22 years of age. The average woman gets married at 27 years old, five years later than her peer from 1975.

The changes come as more young adults say they prioritize education and financial stability over building a family.

Data from the 2012 General Social Survey shows 62 percent of Americans believe completing formal schooling is an extremely important experience necessary to become an adult, and 50 percent say the same about landing a full-time job. Only 12 percent say getting married is an extremely important step toward becoming an adult, and 10 percent say that about having a child.

Both men and women have achieved more access to higher education in the last four decades, but the growth of women in college has been explosive. In 1975, just 18.4 percent of women between the ages of 25 and 34 reported having a bachelor’s degree; today, that number is 40 percent. Among men, 34 percent have a bachelor’s degree, up from 27.4 percent in 1975. 

As more women become employed, the median income of a woman between the ages of 25 and 34 has grown from just shy of $23,000 annually in 1975 to $29,429 today, adjusting for inflation. Among men, the median income has fallen, from $45,908 during the Ford administration to $40,401 today.

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