Young Adults Moving In With Parents, Roommates

Yesterday, the Pew Research Center released a really interesting study which found that young adults in the U.S. are responding to the recession by moving in with their parents or other roommates. This might be a predictable behavior, but it's always useful to see actual data support theory. And the findings are pretty strong.


A recent survey by the Pew Research Center finds that 13% of parents with grown children say one of their adult sons or daughters has moved back home in the past year. Social scientists call them "boomerangers" -- young adults who move in with parents after living away from home. This recession has produced a bumper crop.

One way to lower your costs is to eliminate your housing expense. And many parents are more than eager to have their 20-somethings move back home for a while until they get on their feet. But this chart shows that the phenomenon extends further beyond just mom and dad:

pew rommates 2009.gif

As you can see, young adults have been moving in with others since the recession began. In some cases that might mean parents. But in other situations, they might be seeking roommates to cut costs. The Pew report says that a whopping 24% of respondents 18-24 years-old have moved in with a roommate as a response to the recession, while only 6% have moved back in with parents. Romantic partners are likely also moving in more quickly than they had planned to save money.

Pew also notes:

Similar drops in the proportion of young people who live by themselves occurred during or immediately after the recessions of 1982 and 2001.

So this does appear to be recession driven. And:

The current decline has been particularly steep among young women; the proportion who live by themselves fell by a full percentage point to 6.1%. Among young men, the share living on their own fell 0.2 percentage points to 8.4%, a statistically insignificant change.

That's a little challenging to interpret, but guys aren't as eager to move back in with parents, or to take roommates, as women. It's been well-documented that this recession is also a "mancession," so I don't know that this could be a purely economic phenomenon -- the recession has been worse for men than women. Instead, this disparity might be more psychological.

Another interesting outcome of this data is that it provides another clear reason why the rental market is doing so poorly. Just yesterday, I noted that the first-time home buyer credit has hurt the rental market. Of course, young people often rent. So their choosing to live with parents or roommates has surely also increased rental inventory.