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Living at Home After College

by Andrew Beveridge, Jun 29, 2005
 

It is, in the view of many members of the upper middle class, a natural rite of passage to go away to college, and then, upon graduation, to move to the big city and live on your own. In fact, though, an increasing number of new college grads are moving back in with Mom and Dad

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They have been dubbed the "Boomerang Generation." A new advice book aims at them: "Boomerang Nation: How to Survive Living with Your Parents the Second Time Around." For those finding living back at home difficult, help is available from "I Need My Own Place Self-Action Workbook"

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But if some college grads do move back home, many never leave to begin with: They could not afford to reside in the dorms, or did not attend a four-year residential college.

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About 30 percent of all New York City college grads aged 21 to 25 live with one or more parents in the metropolitan region, according to an analysis of data from the 2000 census, as do 15 percent of those 26 to 30, and eight percent of those 31 to 35. (See Table 1.)

Table 1. Living Arrangements All College Grads 21 to 35
Age Categories
Parent
Roommates or Partners
Self
Spouse
Other Family Situation
Total
21 to 25
45,512
54,111
23,520
13,034
13,710
149,887
30%
36%
16%
9%
9%
26 to 30
39,366
66,550
61,005
72,069
22,882
261,872
15%
25%
23%
28%
9%
31 to 35
17,739
33,620
53,497
96,452
19,792
221,100
8%
15%
24%
44%
9%
Total
102,617
154,281
138,022
181,555
56,384
632,859
16%
24%
22%
29%
9%

But there is a sharp difference between college grads who went away to school and those who did not. When one looks at those aged 23 to 26 who went away to college, only about eight percent are living with their parents. By contrast, almost three-quarters of those who did not go away continue to live at home.

Table 2. Living Arrangements and College Location, College Grads 23-26
Live at Home
Live on Own
Away To College
College at Home
Away To College
College at Home
Female
54%
55%
58%
59%
Married
2%
1%
14%
22%
Race
White
43%
54%
74%
51%
Black
20%
18%
7%
20%
Hispanic
13%
15%
7%
18%
Employed
78%
77%
84%
72%
Median Income
$21,000
$25,000
$30,000
$25,000
Estimated Number
9,127
33,265
99,890
12,353

The college graduates in this age group who went away to college and are now living on their own are more likely to be female, married, white, employed and earning more money. Those who boomeranged (went away to college but now live in their childhood home), make less money, are less married, and less white.

Those that boomerang may not enjoy the experience of moving back home, but what about those who never had the chance to leave?

NOTE: This analysis was based upon data from the 2000 Census Public Use Micro-data file, which includes information about where people lived five years before. That information was used to assess who "went away" to college, as well as other characteristics.

Andrew A. Beveridge has taught sociology at Queens College since 1981, done demographic analyses for the New York Times since 1993, and provides expert testimony on a range of cases, including housing discrimination. The opinions expressed are his alone. 


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