New data issued
by the Census shows a continued upward trend in the share of older Millennials
who are living at home with their parents. The percentage of Americans aged 25
to 34 who lived at home reached 14.7% last year, up from a low of 10.2% in
2003. For younger Millennials, the upward trend seems to have reversed
slightly, with the share of those between 18 and 24 living at home having
fallen to 54.9%, down slightly for the second consecutive year after peaking in
2012 at 56.1%.
Given the state of the economy in the last several years,
this trend is no surprise. What’s striking about this data is the difference
between men and women. In 2014, almost 18% of men between 25 and 34 lived at
home, compared to just 12% of women. That means that men were 1.5 times more
likely than their female counterparts to live with their parents. This gap has
remained fairly consistent for at least the last 20 years, so this is nothing
new, but why is this the case?
Could economic factors explain the difference?
Are young men more likely to live at home because they are
more likely to be unemployed? The 2014 seasonally-adjusted average quarterly
unemployment rate for men ages 25–34 was 6.4%, while for women it was slightly
higher, at 6.6% (Source: BLS). So that doesn’t explain it.
Moreover, the labor force participation rate (see
last month’s indicator) for men in this age group was 88.7%, while for
women it was quite a bit lower, at 73.9% (Source: BLS). With women LESS likely
to be part of the labor force, we might expect that they would be MORE likely
than men to live at home, but this is not the case.
So, if this gap can’t be explained fully by economics, there
must be social factors at play. One potential explanation is the difference in
marrying age (and by extension, cohabitation age, and age of forming intimate
partnerships in general) between men and women. According to 2013 ACS data, the
median age at first marriage was 29.4 for men, compared to 27.4 for women.
Women get married earlier, so it follows that they would leave their parents’
homes earlier to form their own households, as well. Forty-two percent (42%) of
women between 25 and 34 were married with their spouse present in the household,
compared to 34% of men.
How does the U.S. stack up to other countries?
While the number of American Millennials living at home is
on the rise, the U.S. is still on the low end of the spectrum when compared to
European countries. Data from Eurostat shows that, for
the 31 European countries for which 2013 data was available, the average share
of European young adults aged 25 to 34 living at home was 30.2%. This is more
than double the 2013 U.S. rate (13.9%)!
Seven countries had rates below that of the U.S., with the
Scandinavian countries boasting the lowest rates. Denmark had the bottommost
rate—only 1.4% of Danish young adults live with their parents. At the other end
of the spectrum were the countries of Eastern Europe and the Balkans, with
Croatia, Slovakia, Serbia, Greece, and Bulgaria all with rates between 50% and
Despite this broad range across countries in the share of
young adults living at home, all 31 European countries had one thing in common:
Men were more likely than women to live with their parents. Across countries,
men were at least 1.3 times more likely to live with their parents, and in some
countries, the gap was substantially higher. In general, the difference was
most pronounced in Northern Europe. In the Netherlands, for example, 10.5% of
young adults overall lived with their parents, but men were 3.3 times more
likely than women to do so. In Germany, men were 2.2 times more likely to live
at home. The 31-country average was 2.0. Recall that the ratio in the U.S. is
I came across a few anecdotal reasons in my research that
could explain why Millennial men are more likely to live at home. It may be
true that parents tend to give their sons more freedom than their daughters, so
it’s easier for a young man to live at home and still feel independent. In
addition, in certain households, adherence to traditional gender roles might
mean that sons are expected to do less housework than daughters, and so are more
likely to stay at home.
What other factors do you think might be contributing to
this phenomenon in the U.S. or globally? Post your thoughts in the comments!
U.S. Data is from the
Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey – Annual Social Economic Supplements. It is
important to note that unmarried college students living in dormitories are
counted as living in their parental home in CPS data.