Half of young people voted in 2020, major increase from 2016

     

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Jeffrey Arnett does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, & has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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When the Pew Research Center reported in 2020 that the proportion of 18-to-29-year-old Americans who live with their parents has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps you saw some of the breathless headlines hyping how it’s higher than at any time since the Great Depression.

From my perspective, the real story here is less alarming than you might think. And it’s actually quite a bit more interesting than the sound bite summary.

For 30 years I’ve been studying 18-to-29-year-olds, an age group I call “emerging adults” to describe their in-between status as no longer adolescents, but not fully adult.

Even 30 years ago, adulthood – typically marked by a stable job, a long-term partnership & financial independence – was coming later than it had in the past.


Yes, a lot of emerging adults are now living with their parents. But this is part of a larger, longer trend, with the percentage going up only modestly since COVID-19 hit. Furthermore, having grown kids still at trang chủ is not likely to vị you, or them, any permanent harm. In fact, until very recently, it’s been the way adults have typically lived throughout history. Even now, it’s a common practice in most of the world.

Staying home is not new or unusual

Drawing on the federal government’s monthly Current Population Survey, the Pew Report showed that 52% of 18-to-29-year-olds are currently living with their parents, up from 47% in February. The increase was mostly among the younger emerging adults – ages 18 khổng lồ 24 – và was primarily due to lớn their coming home from colleges that shut down or khổng lồ their having lost their jobs.

Although 52% is the highest percentage in over a century, this number has, in fact, been rising steadily since hitting a low of 29% in 1960. The main reason for the rise is that more và more young people continued their education into their 20s as the economy shifted from manufacturing khổng lồ information and technology. When they’re enrolled in school, most don’t make enough money to live independently.

Before 1900 in the United States, it was typical for young people lớn live at trang chủ until they married in their mid-20s, & there was nothing shameful about it. They usually started working by their early teens – it was rare then for kids khổng lồ get even a high school education – and their families relied upon the extra income. Virginity for young women was highly prized, so it was moving out before marriage that was scandalous, not staying home where they could be shielded from young men.

In most of the world today, it is still typical for emerging adults khổng lồ stay home until at least their late 20s. In countries where collectivism is more highly valued than individualism – in places as diverse as Italy, nhật bản and Mexico – parents mostly prefer to have their emerging adults stay trang chủ until marriage. In fact, even after marriage it remains a common cultural tradition for a young man lớn bring his wife into his parents’ household rather than move out.

Until the modern pension system arose about a century ago, aging parents were highly vulnerable & needed their adult children và daughters-in-law to lớn care for them in their later years. This tradition persists in many countries, including the two most populous countries in the world, India & China.

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In today’s individualistic U.S., we mostly expect our kids to hit the road by age 18 or 19 so they can learn lớn be independent & self-sufficient. If they don’t, we may worry that there is something wrong with them.

You’ll miss them when they’re gone

Because I’ve been researching emerging adults for a long time, I’ve been doing a lot of television, radio and print interviews since the Pew report was released.

Always, the premise seems to lớn be the same: Isn’t this awful?

I would readily agree that it’s awful khổng lồ have your education derailed or to thua kém your job because of the pandemic. But it’s not awful to live with your parents during emerging adulthood. Lượt thích most of the rest of family life, it’s a mixed bag: It’s a pain in some ways, & rewarding in others.

In a national survey of 18-to-29-year-olds I directed before the pandemic, 76% of them agreed that they get along better with their parents now than they did in adolescence, but almost the same majority – 74% – agreed, “I would prefer to live independently of my parents, even if it means living on a tight budget.”

Parents express similar ambivalence. In a separate national survey I directed, 61% of parents who had an 18-to-29-year-old living at home were “mostly positive” about that living arrangement, và about the same percentage agreed that living together resulted in greater emotional closeness and companionship with their emerging adults. On the other hand, 40% of the parents agreed that having their emerging adults at home meant worrying about them more, & about 25% said it resulted in more conflict & more disruption to lớn their daily lives.

As much as most parents enjoy having their emerging adults around, they tend to be ready khổng lồ move on khổng lồ the next stage of their lives when their youngest kid reaches their 20s. They have plans they’ve been delaying for a long time – to lớn travel, lớn take up new forms of recreation và perhaps lớn retire or change jobs.

Those who are married often view this new phase as a time to lớn get to lớn know their spouse again – or as a time to admit their marriage has run its course. Those who are divorced or widowed can now have an overnight guest without worrying about scrutiny from their adult child at the breakfast table the next morning.

My wife, Lene, và I have direct experience lớn draw on with our 20-year-old twins, who came trang chủ in March after their colleges closed, an experience shared with millions of students nationwide. I’ll admit we were enjoying our time as a couple before they moved back in, but nevertheless it was a delight having them unexpectedly return, as they are full of love and địa chỉ cửa hàng so much liveliness to lớn the dinner table.

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Now the fall semester has started và our daughter, Paris, is still home taking her courses via Zoom, whereas our son, Miles, has returned lớn college. We’re savoring these months with Paris. She has a great sense of humor & makes an excellent Korean tofu rice bowl. & we all know it won’t last.

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That’s something worth remembering for all of us during these strange times, especially for parents & emerging adults who find themselves sharing living quarters again. It won’t last.

You could see this unexpected change as awful, as a royal pain and daily stress. Or you could see it as one more chance to get lớn know each other as adults, before the emerging adult sails once again over the horizon, this time never lớn return.