Young women taking more time to leave their parents' nests

The increase is puzzling considering the improved state of the economy and an improving job market

By Bloomberg News

Nov 11, 2015 @ 3:37 pm EST

A record share of young women in the U.S. lived at home last year and the economy had little do with it.

Some 36.4% of women age 18 to 34 lived with their parents or relatives in 2014, the highest since records began in 1940, according to a report released Wednesday by Pew Research Center in Washington. While the share of young men was even greater at 42.8%, it wasn't quite as high as it was some 75 years ago.

"The result is a striking U-shaped curve for young women — and young men — indicating a return to the past, statistically speaking," Richard Fry, senior researcher at the Pew Research Center, wrote in the report. But "the reasons that more women today are living with mom and dad are far different."

The increase is puzzling considering the improved state of the economy and an improving job market that has helped more young people earn enough to venture out on their own. Here are some of the longer term forces that could be at play:

Young people are opting for more education

College enrollment rates for both full- and part-time students have generally increased over the past couple decades, and some students may be trying to offset stiff tuition costs by bunking with their parents. Among millennials in college or graduate school, 14% live in "non-institutional group quarters," mostly dorms, while 41% live with their parents, according to research published last year by real-estate website Trulia.

Young women are less likely to be married

Eternal happiness can wait. Millennials are much less likely to be married than their parents were at their age, and marriage often serves as an impetus to move out. Thirty percent of women and 24% of men aged 18 to 34 were married in 2013, compared with almost 50% in 1980.

When they do get married, it's at an older age

The median age for Americans getting married for the first time has risen and is now pushing 30 years old. Without the urgency of impending nuptials, young people are taking their time to move out of the nest.

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