Pew: Majority of young adults in U.S. live with parents for first time since Great Depression

BOSTON — Graduating from college. Staring a career. Getting that first apartment. Being a 20-something is usually a pretty exciting time of life.

The pandemic has upset a lot of those plans, however, and more young people now find themselves living with their parents.

In Brookline’s Coolidge Corner, one young man told Boston 25 News that having to move back in with his parents took a toll on his psyche.

The number of 18 to 29-year-olds living with their parents now stands at 52 percent, according to the Pew Research Center.

That number beats the previous record of 48 percent set during the Great Depression.

“Young people in their 20s are experiencing higher rates of feeling depressed and anxious and I think the two are connected,” said Clark University Professor Jeffrey Arnett who wrote Emerging Adulthood. “I think there is a larger pattern of them feeling like their dreams are on hold.”

Arnett says that although returning home might not be a first choice, it can help this generation cope with some big issues.

“Family support can be a real crucial source of support in this difficult time, especially as many are finding their education delayed, they’re losing their jobs, finding progress in the workplace stalled,” he said.

A young woman in Coolidge Corner said a lot of her friends have moved back home.

“I think for most of them, moving home has been more of a positive impact,” she said.

Sarahbeth Golden, psychology professor at Lasell University, thinks this new dynamic could get a lot of people re-thinking what it means to be a family.

Golden sees an opportunity for family members to re-connect and says research shows parents generally like it when their adult children come home to live.

“As long as there is some reciprocity and the child is pulling her own weight, contributing to the household tasks, maybe helping out financially,” she said.

Ultimately this trend means fewer households are getting formed and big purchases like furniture and appliances are put on hold, which can impact the overall economy.

Jill Gonzales, an analyst with WalletHub, added “I think we’re going to see financial milestones and financial benchmarks completely change, where a generation ago you might think that married with kids by age 30, owning a home, was the end all, be all, and now we’re see maybe it’s easier to put off having children.”

While the pandemic jumpstarted the migration home, it didn’t cause it. These numbers have been drifting up over the past decade or so.

“More frequently, among my friends, it’s people who are saving up in order to buy a home, especially because rent in Boston is fairly high,” said another young man in Coolidge Corner.

This can be a dark period in which to live, but Arnett is optimistic about this age group’s overall optimism.

“I think it’s difficult for them, obviously. I think they feel frustrated and thwarted right now, but I would also keep in mind this is an optimistic time of life.”

Making matters worse for young people is that they’re more likely to face unemployment during the pandemic than older workers.

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