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More Young Adults Are Financially Dependent on Parents Than 50 Years Ago

Demography article by Kahn, Goldscheider, and Garcia-Manglano examines changing family residence patterns

Young adults are more likely to live at home with their parents than they were 50 years ago, especially if they are male, did not graduate from high school, or have low income, according to a recent article published in the journal Demography by Joan Kahn, Frances Goldscheider, and Javier Garcia-Manglano. According to data from the US Census and the American Community Survey, the percentage of adults aged 25 to 44 who shared a home with their parents dropped from 12% in 1960 to 9% in 1980, then nearly doubled to 17% by 2010.

These findings represent significant social and economic changes over the past half century. In both 1960 and 2010, parents and adult children who lived together did so primarily for financial reasons, but the two years represent very different trends. In 1960, adult children who lived with their parents were generally employed and paid the lion’s share of expenses for their impoverished parents. By 2010, the trend had reversed, with unemployed or under-employed adult children relying on their parents’ income to keep them financially afloat.

According to the authors, these changes represent a general trend toward the greater economic security among older adults and the increasing financial strain experienced by younger adults as the United States struggles with the prolonged economic strains caused by the Great Recession. This financial strain among younger adults may prove long-lasting. Today’s working-age adults may enter old age with lower savings than their parents had, a lower likelihood of receiving a generous private pension, and substantial cuts in the value of social security.

Kahn, Goldschneider, and Garcia-Manglano are affiliated with the University of Maryland Population Research Center.

Read a summary of the journal article on the Made In America blog, written by Claude Fischer

Read the complete journal article (university or other access required)