In Defense of Living With Your Parents

me at the Weekly Standard:

A few years ago I was getting a ride home from a party with a guy in his early twenties. I lived in a gentrified neighborhood I could no longer pretend to afford, and he lived, it emerged, with his parents. “Good for you,” I said. “I think that’s great.”

We hit a stoplight and he turned to look at me. “Do you?” he asked, with a sudden edge of cynicism in his voice. “Do you really?” I could hear what he was thinking: I guess you’re trying to be nice or whatever, but nobody thinks it’s “great” when a guy—who should be a man—lives with Mommy and Daddy. One of us was making a foolish choice that was destroying her savings, but the more frugal one bore the weight of societal stigma.

The proportion of young adults (aged 18 to 31) who live with one or both parents stayed basically the same between 1968, the earliest year for which we have data, and 2007. What proportion was normal for those four decades? About a third, 32 percent. A recent Pew Research report found that in 2012 that number had risen to 36 percent, a noticeable increase but not necessarily a sign of social crisis—especially not when you consider that college students living in dorms are still counted as “living with their parents,” and college enrollment has been rising since 2007 as well. More men than women live with Mom and/or Dad, which might seem like an effect of the ongoing “mancession”—in which men’s labor-force participation has plummeted—but men have been more likely to live with their parents as adults since at least 1968, partly because men typically marry later than women. In fact, the gender gap was greater in 1968 than today.

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