I was reading an article in the Denver Post about current demographic trends that startled me. The article cites data from the latest US Census American Community Survey that indicates “34.1 percent of all 18- to 34-year-olds in the U.S. lived in their parents’ home in 2015.”
Thirty-four percent. Now it’s possible that the 18yo and 19yo gap year students are skewing the data, but it’s still a bit mind-boggling that fully one-third of all young adults are living with their parents rather than making their own way in the world as my sister and I did when we left home.
In terms of how this breaks down by state, you might be surprised. Apparently, the US Census Bureau ascertained that New Jersey had the highest amount at 46.9 percent, while North Dakota had the lowest at 14.1 percent. My home state of Colorado falls in the middle at 24.6 percent. But think about New Jersey: almost one half of young adults in the 18-34 age group were living with their parents for at least a portion of 2015.
I love my kids, but I really believe in the “shipbuilding” metaphor for parenting: Pre-adolescence I’m helping build a ship that can float and survive the occasional storm. Adolescence is when we get to see if I succeeded since when they’re 16 and at a party where alcohol or weed is being passed around, I’m not there to help them stay the course and make the smart decision. Do they?
But once they hit their late teens, it’s time for them to step out and into their own life. As I have made clear with my own 19yo (who’s living in her own apartment, even though we’re living in the same town) I’m no longer responsible for her decisions or their outcome. She can’t blame me, she can’t say things are my fault. Her life, her choices, her results. And she’s embracing it, with all its fears, unknowns and even loneliness.
If she’s in a bind, sure, she can come home for a few weeks while she figures out a next step, and I’ll offer the same to my other children as they get older and matriculate, but seriously, 46.9% of young adults live with their parents in New Jersey? I really find that inexplicable.
The Post also seems at a loss to explain the trend, offering up the following:
Young people are increasingly less likely to settle down and marry before the age of 35, according to Pew and U.S. Census data. The overall share of young adults who are married or living with an unmarried partner has substantially fallen since 1990, the Pew report said. Wages for young men have been on a downward trajectory since 1970 (after adjusting for inflation) and fell significantly from 2000 to 2010, according to Pew.
Interesting, but are we really moving towards multi-generational housing as we had back in the old country generations ago? To be fair, I can see some advantages, but a lot of disadvantages too. What’s your take?