I’ve often encouraged Millennials to be entrepreneurial and to take chances in order to build successful lives for themselves (see here, and here). But the Great Recession, and other factors like extended lifespans, are changing how young people, and society, think about living with parents in adulthood. In America, 32% of 18-34 year olds live with a parent. In the EU it’s 48.1%! Gone are the days when age 18 struck and you expected to move out of the house. You may think it isn’t the best way for young adults to live, but the WSJ writes that it’s not only the desire to mooch from Mom and Dad that’s driving this stay-at-home trend.
If dollars and cents were the only driver, why are millennials continuing to live with their parents even as the economy, job market and future prospects have rebounded? According to Pew’s analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data published last year, “the nation’s 18-to-34-year-olds are less likely to be living independently of their families and establishing their own households than they were in the depths of the Great Recession.”
Without discounting the financial factors, two other explanations help to explain the rise and growth of this trend beyond the narrow economic rationale.
First, we may be witnessing a restructuring of the life course: As the length of lives gets extended, the stages of life are likewise being recast. Social scientists have heralded the advent of an entirely new stage of life between adolescence and adulthood, often called “emerging adulthood.” The reasons that young people are taking longer to acquire the trappings of adulthood—marrying, settling into careers, buying a home later—can be attributed to developmental shifts as much as anything else.
The MacArthur Foundation’s research group on transitions to adulthood found that, “A new period of life is emerging in which young people are no longer adolescents but not yet adults.” This “stretched out walk to independence,” as it’s been called, may be giving young people and parents more – and better – time together.
Just as important, the return to the nest is as much about pull as it is about push. Many young people are coming back because they want to, because they are close to their parents. Of those 25 to 34 living with their parents, the Pew Research Center writes, “large majorities say they’re satisfied with their living arrangements (78%) and upbeat about their future finances (77%).”
Indeed, soon-to-be released research from Pew veterans Paul Taylor and Scott Keeter, underwritten by Encore.org and several national foundations, shows that 6 in 10 millennials (age 18 to 35) today say they’re very close to their parents. By contrast, fewer than half of middle-aged and older adults say the same was true of their relationships with their own parents back when they were in their 20s and 30s.