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Why Do So Many Adults Still Live With Their Parents?

Hint: It’s because people have no money and housing is too expensive.

We already know that more young adults live at home with their parents now than at any time since 1870. Now, thanks to data from online money-lender Earnest, we also know why those folks are staying at home.

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Earnest analyzed 60,000 loan applications to get a picture of the applicants’ living situations, taking a look at factors like gender, age, location, and education. Earnest’s figures showed that 15% of their applicants live with their parents, which is around half the number of home-living adults in total, according to the Pew survey mentioned above. But the Earnest data also sees a higher proportions of stay-at-home adults in areas with a higher cost of living, which makes sense.

Age is also a big factor, with almost half of all 18-22 year olds living at home, with the proportion dropping steadily until you reach just 1% of 50-year-olds who live with their parents. These folks, though, probably moved back in to look after their aging parents

The Earnest figures also break things down by state. New Jersey has more live-at-homes than anywhere else: 35.5%. Of the 48 surveyed states, Kentucky is at the bottom of the list, with only 5.1% of adults living with their parents. Overall, the geographic breakdown correlates with the cost of living in the same places.

In fact, money–or the lack of it–seems to be the main factor in determining who still lives with their parents. Looking a the chart, you see that, as earnings rise, the likelihood of living with parents drops. There are outliers though. “Some who live at home make a wage that should allow them to live independently,” says Earnest’s report. “Like the older groups in our age analysis, these high earners could be older adults in established households who live with elderly parents to provide, not receive, support.”

The full survey looks at several other factors, but we’ll taker a look at one more here: University majors. Those who majored in law are the most likely of all to have moved out, likely because lawyers get paid a fortune. At the other end, those who studied psychology and human sciences are the most likely still to be at home, although that might have less too do with money and more to do with the fact that these people are trained to deal with difficult people like parents. One big surprise is that computer and information sciences majors are the second most likely, after law students, to have moved into their own homes. That finally puts the whole computer-nerd-living-in-their-parents’-basement myth to rest.

This trend might not just be a passing fad either. In many places in Europe, family ties are stronger, and children are much more likely to live with their parents well into their late twenties, and often even after marriage. It’s partly an economic need that keeps this happening, but it has been going on for so long that it’s also a now a cultural staple. With the economic future looking bleak for a long time to come, perhaps the baby-boomer dream of getting a steady job, buying a home and raising a family in it, will come to be seen as just a lucky blip in history.

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[Photo: Maskot/Getty Images]

About the author

Previously found writing at Wired.com, Cult of Mac and Straight No filter.

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