On Tuesday, Pew Research Center released data that signal the end of American adulthood:
In 2014, for the first time in more than 130 years, adults ages 18 to 34 were slightly more likely to be living in their parents’ home than they were to be living with a spouse or partner in their own household.
So dies the feminist movement and manhood in the same breath.
After the feminist movement and the rise of the sexual revolution put the supposed patriarchal institution of marriage on the chopping block, the vision of America changed. In the 1950s and early 1960s, it had been getting a job, getting married, buying a house, having children. Then it became single-person independence: a woman needs a fish like a man needs a bicycle, and a man needs marriage like a hole in the head. The American dream of Leave It To Beaver became The Mary Tyler Moore Show: single young woman, out and about, making her way in the world without relying on her parents. When that dream died, it was replaced with the Friends fantasy: single young people living in cooperative living facilities but holding down jobs and making their way through life.
It turns out that the reality of the post-marriage movement is somewhat more dismal: single young people living in the homes of the married parents whose dreams they once despised, whiling away their youth at jobs they don’t particularly like. Nobody makes television shows about these people. The demise of marriage as the primary sexual output for both men and women means casual, fleeting relationships rather than the society-building long-term relationships that provide incentive for planning and saving. As Pew points out:
Dating back to 1880, the most common living arrangement among young adults has been living with a romantic partner, whether a spouse or a significant other. This type of arrangement peaked around 1960, when 62% of the nation’s 18- to 34-year-olds were living with a spouse or partner in their own household, and only one-in-five were living with their parents. By 2014, 31.6% of young adults were living with a spouse or partner in their own household, below the share living in the home of their parent(s) (32.1%).
The last time so few young people lived outside their parents home was the Great Depression.
Young men particularly are living at home – since 2009, men aged 18 to 34 have been primarily bunking with mom and dad. That’s pathetic, of course: they should be building lives and families of their own. But they don’t have any incentive to do so, and they have fewer women to choose from who want to do the same – a growing percentage of young women are also living at home. They’re also losing jobs to women in the workplace – there’s more of a labor force with which to compete. That’s fine, so far as it goes, since women should be working however much they want to – but instead of young men and women living together and figuring out a combined income, they’re living separately and occupying the basement.
Is this good for young men and women? Of course not. It’s also bad for family relations, the economy, and the future growth of a responsible adult population. Living at age 30 the same way you did at age 15 is infantilizing. It turns men into boys and women into girls – or worse, into single mothers (16 percent of young women are now heading up a household with a spouse or partner).
America’s new reality won’t be on your television. It isn’t glamorous or fun. It’s sad and enervating. But it does make more Americans dependent on government. And that’s what the left truly cares about in the end.