Share of Young Women Living With Their Parents Hits Record High, Matching Pre-WWII Levels


A new analysis says that more young women are living with family than at any time since 1940. Fortunately, the use of “doll face” has not staged an accompanying comeback.

The Pew Research Center just released some fresh crunching of U.S. Census numbers, which found that “36.4% of women ages 18 to 34 resided with family in 2014, mainly in the home of mom, dad or both.” This is a blast from the past, Pew says:

You’d have to go back 74 years to observe similar living arrangements among American young women. Young men, too, are increasingly living in the same situation, but unlike women their share hasn’t climbed to its level from 1940, the highest year on record. (Comparable data on living arrangements are not available from before then.)
Back in 1940, 36.2% of young women lived with their parents or relatives. That number dropped over the next couple of decades as marriage rates increased and women began joining the workforce in larger numbers, becoming financially able to live on their own.

Independence for young people—again, that’s everybody 18 to 34—peaked in 1960, with only 24 percent under the familial roof. After that, the share of youths living at home crept upward until 2000, then jumped—especially post-2008—and kept rising. (Young men are even more likely to live with family than young women, but the numbers don’t match the high levels immediately pre-World War II.)

When it comes to young women, the numbers might match 1940, but the underlying causes are very different. Back then, hardly any girls went to college, and instead the typical arrangement was living at home until getting married. The country was still shaking off the Great Depression, when marriage rates dropped and jobs to support your own household were—obviously—hard to come by.

Nowadays, young women are more likely to attend college (which statistically means you’re more likely to be living with family/at home—and Bloomberg Businessweek suggests some of these folks are trying to cut costs) and less likely to be married, because people are getting married later. For reference, Pew says the average age of a woman’s first marriage was 21.5 in 1940; it rose to 27 in 2014.

Wonder how much of that is down to the staggering cost of weddings?

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Image via Getty.

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