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What has changed, instead, is the relative share adopting different ways of living in early adulthood, with the decline of romantic coupling pushing living at home to the top of a much less uniform list of living arrangements.
Among young adults, living arrangements differ significantly by gender.
For women, delayed marriage—which is related, in part, to labor market outcomes for men—may explain more of the increase in their living in the family home.
For their part, young women are on the cusp of crossing over this threshold: They are still more likely to be living with a spouse or romantic partner (35%) than they are to be living with their parent(s) (29%).
In 2014, more young women (16%) than young men (13%) were heading up a household without a spouse or partner.
A variety of factors contribute to the long-run increase in the share of young adults living with their parents.
The first is the postponement of, if not retreat from, marriage.
Economic factors seem to explain less of why young adult women are increasingly likely to live at home.
Generally, young women have had growing success in the paid labor market since 1960 and hence might increasingly be expected to be able to afford to live independently of their parents.
The median age of first marriage has risen steadily for decades.
In addition, a growing share of young adults may be eschewing marriage altogether.
It’s worth noting that the overall share of young adults living with their parents was not at a record high in 2014.
This arrangement peaked around 1940, when about 35% of the nation’s 18- to 34-year-olds lived with mom and/or dad (compared with 32% in 2014).
In addition, trends in both employment status and wages have likely contributed to the growing share of young adults who are living in the home of their parent(s), and this is especially true of young men.