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Live at home kids drain boomers finances
Live at home kids drain boomers finances
Live at home kids drain boomers finances

Today’s Statistical Sign of the Economic Apocalypse comes in the form of a study from the Pew Research Center that notes that 36% of adults aged 18-to-31—or 21.6 million Americans—still live at home with their parents. That reflects a sharp increase in a number that had been essentially flat for four decades; as recently as 2007, it was 32%. And all those stay-at-home adults represent a drain on boomer parents’ savings efforts; as The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year, housing an adult kid at home costs the parents between $8,000 and $18,000 a year.

A limping economy and high unemployment are, of course, major factors behind the stay-at-home trend – and 45% of these attic-dwelling millennials are unemployed, according to Pew. But there are some other trends in play that add a bit more nuance to the picture. MarketWatch’s Quentin Fottrell talks about some of the economic pressures facing the millennials in the video below.

Notably, the Census Bureau data set on which Pew bases its analysis considers college students who live in dormitories to be living with their parents, in addition to counting students who are living at home while matriculating. College enrollment has steadily increased among 18-to-24 year olds since 2007, from around 35% to 39%, and Pew cites that fact as a major contributor to the stay-at-home spike.

As a group who’ve been on the job market for a while, the slightly-older millennials, those aged 25 to 31, seem as though they may be a bigger indicator of the country’s economic health—and this cohort may also show the sharpest contrast with their boomer parents. Within this group, 16% lived at home in 2012—down slightly from 2011, but up from 13.8% in 2007, and from about 10% in 1981. A slower economy is certainly keeping many these adult kids from taking part in “household formation”—economist-speak for moving out and paying their own rent or mortgage. But changing marriage norms are also a factor. In 1981, about 43% of 18-to-31-year-olds (the core of the boomer generation) were married and had set up house on their own; today, only 23% fit that description.

A look at the educational credentials of the older, 25-to-31 cohort also shows the growing importance of a college degree for those who want an economic head start. In 1968, people in that age group were equally likely to be living at home, whether they had a college degree or not. Today, 11% of those with a bachelors’ degree are living in their parents’ home—essentially unchanged from 45 years ago—but the rate among those with a high-school diploma or less has risen to 15%, and among those with some college, but no degree, it’s 14%. Consider it one other way in which boomers’ investments in their kids’ educations may be paying off.

Live at home kids drain boomers finances

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