The last time this many young American women lived at home with parents or relatives, John Steinbeck had just won the Pulitzer Prize and CBS had just demonstrated a fantastic invention called color television.
"You’d have to go back 74 years to observe similar living arrangements," writes researcher Richard Fry in his new report for the Pew Research Center, of the increasing number of women 18-34 who live at home.
Moving out of your parents' place is a sign of independence and stability. It means a young woman is likely married or in college, or has a job good enough to live on her own. And not since 1940 have so many young women remained at home, a rate that today has reached 36.4 percent.
In 1940, 36.2 percent of young women lived with family. It was likely a result of the Great Depression, and the looming U.S. entrance into World War II. Back then, women typically lived with their parents until they married—the average age being 21.5, about six years younger than it is today. With the threat of global war and a wrecked American economy, moving away from home soon just wasn't a reality.
In the next few decades, as men returned from wars and the economy boomed, women married at higher rates once more and, increasingly, joined the workforce. The most independent time for young women was 1960 (as far as living with family goes), when only 24 percent of young women were living at home.