The number of young women living at home is greater than it was during WWII

A lot has changed about the world since 1940. But according to new statistics from the Pew Research Center, something that hasn’t changed since 1940 is the number of young women living with their parents. Although the number of young women living at home considerably lowered from the 1950s to the 2000s, it’s gone right back up. Now, it’s even above the number of women living at home during the WWII era.

The analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data reveals that 36.4% of women aged 18 to 34 lived with their family last year — mostly Mom, Dad, or both. The number hasn’t been so high since the 1940s, which saw 36.2% of young women living at home. And although young men have a similar U-shaped curve in their data, unlike young women, there’s still an almost 5% difference between the 1940s and the most recent 2014 data.

As Pew notes, the number of young women living at home dropped from the 1940s on throughout the next several decades due to a combination of increased marriage rates and higher numbers of women joining the workforce, leading to financial stability that enabled them to move out. After the Great Recession, the number of live-at-home-young-women spiked up again.

“Some of what’s happening is probably economics, because the great recession really hit young adults hard,” Dr. Richard Fry, the Pew Research Center economist who did the analysis, told the New York Times. “But I’m still struggling with the economic explanation, since the labor market for young adults has improved in the last five years, and yet the percentage living with their family is still going up. It seems to be somewhat decoupled from economics.”

Good news may go hand-in-hand with this statistic. According to Pew, the spike could be because young women today are more likely to have a college education:

Due to the unfortunate fact that college is expensive (student loans, fun fun!), college students are particularly more likely to be living at home than non-college students.

Another reason Pew highlighted in their report? Women are getting married later in life. In 2013, women were half as likely to be married than in 1940; last year, the average age a young woman got married was 27. In 1940, the average age was 21.5.

A final reason — though this is based less on statistics and more on speculation, says Dr. Fry — is that the attitude towards moving back in with parents after college has definitely changed in the past several years. “I don’t have any research to back it up, but one does hear that the social acceptance of living with your parents has increased,” Dr. Fry told the New York Times.

Sure, the numbers may sound a bit grim at first glance, but the truth is that young women of today are changing their priorities. They aren’t focusing on marriage first and foremost; they’re focusing on getting a well-rounded education and pursuing their ultimate dreams. But in order to do that, they need to stay at home a little longer. Sounds like an excellent plan to us.

Related reading: 

In defense of living with your parents

Before you move back home as a 20-something, read this first

(Images via Pew Research Center, Universal Pictures.)

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