Monday, July 7, 2014

An Urban Myth: Is It a Problem that 20-Somethings Are Living with Their Parents?

Shout out to CB interning at GS: the Census Bureau officially counts you as a slacker, but the rest of us know better.

You know all that stuff about how bad it is that so many 20-somethings are living at home with their parents? What if it was nonsense?

Check out this piece from The Atlantic entitled “The Misguided Freakout About Basement-Dwelling Millenials”.

It turns out that the Census Bureau counts just about any student living away at college (in the dorms, in student housing, and so on) as living in their parents’ home.

That actually makes some sense: it’s not like most college students have established a permanent residence — for the whole year (since we do most demographics on an annual basis) — from their parents, right?

Here’s the charts to help make sense of what this means in the data. First off, 20-somethings are a lot less likely to be married, but more likely to be living every other way:

Do note that there is definitely an uptick in people living at home with their parents since the Great Recession.

But also this note, showing that most of that is because they’re in college:

Note that this is not graduated-from-college-within-the-last-couple-of-years-and-can’t-find-a-job. That’s the bottom shaded area, and it’s declined over the last generation, and the uptick over the last 10 years is pretty modest.

So … lighten up … and tell the old folks to lighten up too. ;)

Having said that, do note that the center section will also include people staying in college because they can’t or won’t find a job and move out. So the millenials are not completely absolved here, but college towns have been full of “permanent students” for a very long time, and there’s little evidence that his phenomenon has gotten worse. And in fact, most universities are actually pushing students harder to get out the door than ever before.

Cross-posted from SUU Macroblog, which is required reading for my students.

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