Millennials Lag Behind on Traditional Markers of Adulthood

Jim Liebelt | Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University | Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Millennials Lag Behind on Traditional Markers of Adulthood

*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on Bloomberg.

There's no shortage of theories as to how and why today's young people differ from their parents.

As marketing consultants never cease to point out, baby boomers and millennials appear to have starkly different attitudes about pretty much everything, from money and sports to breakfast and lunch.

New research tries to ground those observations in solid data. The National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University set out to compare 25- to 34-year-olds in 1980—baby boomers—with the same age group today. Researcher Lydia Anderson compared U.S. Census data from 1980 with the most recent American Community Survey data in 2015.

The results reveal some stark differences in how young Americans are living today, compared with three or four decades ago.

In 1980, two-thirds of 25- to 34-year-olds were already married. One in eight had already been married and divorced. In 2015, just two in five millennials were married, and only 7 percent had been divorced.

Residential Independence
Baby boomers' eagerness to get married meant they were far more likely than today's young people to live on their own. Anderson looked at the share of each generation living independently, either as heads of their own household or in married couples.

In 1980, 84 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds lived in independent households, compared with 59 percent of millennials in 2015.

The chance that Americans in their late twenties and early thirties live with parents or grandparents has more than doubled. In 1980, just 9 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds were doing so. In 2015, 22 percent lived with parents or grandparents.

Home Ownership and Children
Millennials are also less likely than boomers to be living with kids—and to be homeowners.

In 1980, 60 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds owned their own homes. In 2015, 43 percent of millennials were home owners.

Sixty-eight percent of boomers lived with at least one biological child in 1980, compared with 55 percent of millennials in 2015.

It’s easy to look at these figures and say millennials are lagging behind their boomer parents. However, even as young Americans delay marriage, kids, and homeownership, they're ahead of their parents by one measure: education.

In 1980, less than half of boomers matriculated to college education, compared with two-thirds of millennials.

Source: Bloomberg