As more adults decide to live with mom and dad, young men appear to be less willing to fly the nest than women, a new study finds. This, experts say, could be an early sign of larger economic problems.
Millions of young Americans are living at home, according to a Pew Research Center analysis. The number of “millennials”—adults aged 18 to 31—living at home rose to 36 percent last year. That represented the highest percentage in the last four decades, and a significant increase from 32 percent just five years earlier. However, millennial males (40 percent) were significantly more likely than millennial females (32 percent) to live with mom and dad.
There are some demographic reasons for the gender gap. On average, men tend to marry later than women, says Zhenchao Qian, chair of sociology at Ohio State University. Sons may also have an easier time at home. Even in 2013, parents expect their sons to do less housework than their daughters, he says.
“Parents give their sons more freedom than their daughters,” says Kit Yarrow, chair of the psychology department at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, Calif. and co-author of “Gen Y.”
But there are more worrying factors in play than a taste for the comforts of home. Young women tend to outperform men in post-secondary education. Some 71.3 percent of female high school graduates in the class of 2012 enrolled in college versus 61.3 percent of males, according to the government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. What’s more, men who had earned bachelor’s degrees in 2011 had an unemployment rate of 16.1 percent in October 2011, compared with 11.2 percent among females, a separate Bureau of Labor Statistics report found.
Regardless of sex, children living at home longer put a bigger financial burden on their parents and the economy. Hosting a son or daughter after 18 can cost $8,000 to $18,000 a year, according to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal. And the fact that around 22.6 million young adults are still living at home also means there are fewer renters and potential buyers of first-time homes in the property market. Only 450,000 new households are being created annually versus 1.1 million before the recession, according to real-estate marketplace Trulia; 18- to 34-year-olds make up half of that demand.
Excerpted from Women Leave the Nest, Men Stay with Parents, by Quentin Fottrell, MarketWatch, August 5, 2013.