Tough times: Over 25% of adults under 35 live with parents, study shows

February 12, 1993|By San Francisco Chronicle

In an era of decreasing wages and rising unemployment, more than a quarter of adults under 35 were living with their parents last year, according to a new federal study.

The report by the U.S. Census Bureau provides more proof that it has been harder for today's young people to attain the economic independence that their parents enjoyed.

About 18 million people ages 18 to 34 -- 27 percent of the age group -- lived with their parents last year. In 1960, 8.4 million -- or 22 percent -- of the 18- to 34-year-olds in the United States lived with their parents.

Many young people say it is simply too tough to make it on their own today.

Some say they will move out as soon as they can save enough dTC money. Others have returned home to their parents to regroup after college or a struggle for financial independence.

"I want to move as quickly as possible, but I just cannot afford to live on my own," said Nathalie Mariano, a 19-year-old student who lives at home in San Francisco. "I hope to move in the fall, if I can get a loan for college and a place to live."

Jonathan Minton, 29, says his return to his parents' home in Mill Valley "won't last a year."

"I just came back from school in Southern California, and I'm living here while I look for work."

The Census Bureau study divides the 18- to 34-year-olds into two subgroups, those roughly college age, 18 to 24, and those 25 to 34.

Among the younger group, 54 percent were living at home in 1992, compared with the 43 percent who lived with their parents in 1960.

About 12 percent of adults ages 25 to 34 lived with their parents in 1992. The figure is double the percentage reported in 1960.

As evidence of the economic difficulty that young people are facing, earlier studies have shown that when inflation is factored in, adults 35 and younger earn less than people in the same age group did 30 years ago.

Marital status may also be a reason more adults are living with their parents. Adults under 35 are staying single a lot longer than they once did.

Men were waiting until a median age of 26 and women until 24 to marry, according to figures compiled last year. For men and women, that is four years older than the median age for marriage in 1960.

"Very, very few people will live with their parents when they gemarried, but if you aren't married, being at home can look like a reasonable alternative," said Andrew Cherlin, a demographer who specializes in modern family issues at Johns Hopkins University.

"Thirty years ago, it wasn't that acceptable to still be living ahome after you were 20 years old. Now it's very common," he said.

Some couples tell of taking weekends off to visit friends or ski osnowboard in Tahoe.

"Even sleeping on the floor in an apartment with four guys livinin it is better" than the lack of privacy at home, said Jean Baker, who married her longtime boyfriend, Jack, in December.

They lived at their parents' homes for most of 1992, after having lived together in college.

"Romantic life? I don't think we had one. There would be no way to launch a romance, if you didn't already know someone," she said.

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