Fewer young Mainers are getting hitched, more living with parents

It’s neither as glamorous or as disappointing as it sounds: nationwide, people ages 18-34 were more likely to be living with parents in 2014 than any time before.

The Pew Study found that living with a parent has become the most common living arrangement, using its own groupings of census data.

A Pew Research study documented those trends nationally earlier this week, finding that the living situations of younger Americans has shifted quite a bit over the last century, due to a few changes.

Key among them is a smaller share of that group is married or living with a partner. It’s part of the trend that’s creating a market for grown-up dorms in some cities.

While those types of living spaces haven’t exactly hit Maine and living with parents was back on the decline in 2014, it’s clear that more are postponing marriage and that cohabitation trends are changing.

Replicating the Pew study, using the always lovely microdata series from the University of Minnesota’s Minnesota Population Center, it’s clear that the trend for marriage from 1960 to 2014 mirrors national trends.

While young men and women both became more likely to live with parents than a spouse or partner from 2010 to 2014, that living situation became less likely during that time in Maine.

The nearly two-year Great Recession was also likely a factor in the 2010 census, with still lingering effects delaying homeownership or other major life moves for the generation that entered the mess as adults (a toast to the classes of 2008-2010 and beyond).

The analysis could also underrepresent the share of people cohabiting, based on the designations available in the census data (more on this later).

The data look at the reported relationships of census survey respondents to the heads of their household, by age and marital status.

The categories of married or cohabiting includes the obvious, and also anyone who reported being a partner, friend or visitor in the household (the survey doesn’t separate partner from visitor groups).

Living with parents includes anyone identified as a child or child-in-law; other living arrangements includes living with other relatives, siblings or in group quarters like college dorms; and living alone includes people who are unmarried heads of households or single parents.

For that reason, the share of unmarried people living together could be underrepresented (see more on this in the Pew analysis). The data about household structure is in relation to the head of a household only, meaning that it’s not clear whether an unmarried “head of household” is coupled or not. That data was collected in more detail starting in 1990.

In 2014, about 9 percent of all young adults included in the 2014 census surveys reported they were unmarried and were the partner to a head of household, while about 14 percent of all young adults were identified as unmarried heads of their household.

That status as unmarried head of household has been the primary reason the category of “living alone” has risen and people reported as never married but cohabiting first appeared as any substantial share of young Maine households in 1980 census data.

That group has grown as well, to about 9 percent of respondents in 2014, from about 3 percent in 1980.

Darren Fishell

About Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.