You’ve heard that the Great Recession forced many young Americans to put off leaving the nest, but a new study from the Pew Research Center shows how dramatic the societal shift has been, especially for women: The percentage of young women who are living at home with parents or relatives has reached its highest level since the 1940s.
Pew found that 36.4 percent of women aged 18 to 34 were living with family in 2014. The last time the rate climbed that high was in 1940, when 36.2 percent of young women resided with family.
While the steep rate is a blast from the past, the reasons behind the shift are not.
College students overall are much more likely to be living with family than young adults who aren’t in school, and women are five times as likely to be pursuing a degree today than in 1940. More than a quarter of women ages 18 to 34 (27 percent) were enrolled in college in 2014.
Women are also remaining in the nest because they’re pushing off marriage. In 2013, only 30 percent of young women were married, compared with 62 percent of young women in 1940. The average woman now gets married for the first time at age 27, according to Census data cited by Pew — 6.5 years later than the average age in 1940.
Other possible economic reasons include higher housing costs, rising student debt, wage stagnation and economic uncertainty — but unemployment should no longer be a factor.
“The job market has gotten significantly better (for this group),” Richard Fry, a senior economist at Pew, told the Associated Press. “Unemployment has come down, more have jobs and some are even getting paid a bit more.”
The trend is also similar among young men. The research found that 42.8 percent of young men are living at home, a greater percentage than their female peers but not one that surpasses the 1940 level of 47.5 percent.