These Nests Aren’t Actually Empty

Does your adult child live with you? You’re not alone. More Millennials live with their parents than any other generation in the last 130 years. The back-at-homes are clustered in six major cities, and one look at the income-versus-rent ratio tells you why.

You would think that Detroit, the city that has a sad inventory of at least at least 70,000 abandoned buildings, 31,000 empty houses, and 90,000 vacant lots, would be a very affordable place to live. But wages aren’t doing much better than the housing market. Average monthly income is $1,084 versus media rent of $871. Similarly challenging ratios characterize theother five top cities for boomerang babies: Miami, Riverside, New York City, Philadelphia, Los Angeles.

Pew Research offers a deep analysis of demographic and economic trends, proposing that the real reason Millennials are back at home is that they’re not settling down romantically before age 35.

A previous Pew Research Center analysis projected that as many as one-in-four of today’s young adults may never marry. While cohabitation has been on the rise, the overall share of young adults either married or living with an unmarried partner has substantially fallen since 1990. The Great Recession has probably contributed to the trend, but the boomerage trend predates 2008, when the recession began.

It’s not a U.S. trend, either. Pew took a look around and found similar trends abroad. Across the European Union’s 28 member nations, nearly half (48.1%) of 18- to 34-year-olds were living with their parents in 2014, according to the EU statistical agency Eurostat.

Canada’s most recent census, in 2011, found that 42.3% of adults ages 20 to 29 lived in their parents’ homes, up from 32.1% in 1991 and 26.9% in 1981. In Australia, about 29% of 18- to 34-year-olds were living with one or both of their parents (but without a partner or child) in 2011, up from 21% in 1976. And in Japan, the share of 20- to 34-year-olds living with their parents grew from 29.5% in 1980 to 48.9% in 2012.

Among parents, feelings seem to be mixed. For some, especially women, having a full house again detracts from the new freedom they were looking forward to. Some feel guilty or worried that their children aren’t launching as planned. Others are happy to have their little birds back in the nest and everyone gets along mostly splendidly. If it takes a village to raise a child, it’s grand when a child has a village to come home to.

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