If you are an American between the ages of 18 and 34 and you live with your parents, you are not alone. You are very not alone.
According to the Pew Research Center, for the first time since 1880, young American adults are more likely to live with their parents than they are to live alone or with a spouse or romantic partner.
Pew used census and American Community Survey (ACS) data to determine that in 2014, 32% of Americans aged 18 to 34 lived with one or both parents. That year, 31.6% of their peers were living with a spouse or romantic partner. Twenty-two percent lived in a relative or non-relative's home, or lodged in group housing (like college dorms). Just 14% lived on their own or with at least one roommate.
To be clear, 2014 wasn't the peak year for living in mom's basement. Back in 1940, a full 35% of young adults lived with their parents. But in 1940, more members of that demographic—about 46%—lived with a husband, wife, or partner.
Still, the rate of young Americans living with their parents remains far outpaced by that of Europeans in a comparable demographic. According to Pew, "across the European Union’s 28 member nations, nearly half (48.1%) of 18- to 34-year-olds were living with their parents in 2014."
Per Pew, young people started living with their parents even before the great recession of 2008—suggesting that though fallout from the economic collapse is likely making it harder for young people to go it alone, something else is going on.
And The Associated Press suggests, the longer young people live at home, the longer it will take for the U.S. economy to bounce back:
With more young people living with their parents rather than on their own, fewer people need to buy appliances, furniture or cable subscriptions. The recovery from the 2008-09 recession has been hobbled by historically low levels of home construction and home ownership.
Pwer researchers have their own theory. Though a number of factors contribute to the trend, there is a single, driving force: The declining marriage rates among American youth. From the report:
This turn of events is fueled primarily by the dramatic drop in the share of young Americans who are choosing to settle down romantically before age 35. Dating back to 1880, the most common living arrangement among young adults has been living with a romantic partner, whether a spouse or a significant other. This type of arrangement peaked around 1960, when 62% of the nation’s 18- to 34-year-olds were living with a spouse or partner in their own household, and only one-in-five were living with their parents.
Overall, young men are more likely than their female counterparts to live with their parents.
That's been the case for quite some time, per Pew:
Young men are now more likely to be living with mom and/or dad (35%) than to be living with a spouse or partner in their own household (28%). The year that the young adult males “crossed over” was 2009. Young women have not reached the tipping point yet. In 2014, 35% of young women were living with a spouse or unmarried partner while 29% lived in the home of their parent(s).
That might be the case because, as Pew researchers explain, women have been seeing improvements in employment rates (and have been generally more independent) since 1960. Men, on the other hand, saw a decrease from the post-WWII job boom.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.