The NY Times has a “Room for Debate” feature on the topic of adult children living with their parents.
This is an issue I’ve been way ahead of. Back in 2006 I explained that declining incomes were causing adult men to live with their parents. That was even before the recession.
Let’s start by pointing out that the idea that single adult children should live on their own is a relatively new social invention. Michael Rosenfeld points out that traditionally, adult children only moved away from their parents after they got married. So the adult children living on their own two generations ago were married adult children.
But yes, things have changed a lot, and the message the media gives us is that men who live with their parents are LOSERS. Yet strangely, women are more likely than men to not live with their parents. This is partly because they get married younger, but I guess that this is partly because parents give their female children more financial support, because women are less adverse to sharing an apartment with roommates, are more likely to seek jobs in cities where their parents don’t live, and are less concerned about saving money and aren’t concerned that they are spending 100% of their income. Men are expected to at least save enough money to buy their fiancée an expensive diamond engagement ring, while marriage is a free ride for women. Some sociologists also claim that women are more eager to move away from their parents because parents give them less independence than they give their male children living with them, but I’m not sure I but into that.
I should also point out that many children who live “on their own” are actually receiving financial support from their parents, thus living away from home has become a big class divider. Children from more well-off families receive financial support from their parents and at the same time they get better-paying jobs because they attended good colleges and because their parents were able to give them a head start in their career. It’s a lot more difficult for those without a college education, or those with a college education but also with a of student loan debt, to be able to afford to live on their own.