Generation WE: The Movement Begins
Millennials are the largest generation in American history. Born between 1980 or so and 2000, they're close to 83 million strong, compared to the 75 million Baby Boomers — and the largest percentage of them are staying at home with their parents, according to a new survey. Flickr

There's a millennial revolution going on in America and it involves mum and dad and the family home. For the first time in 130 years, more young adults between the ages of 18 to 34 are living with their parents instead of with a romantic partner, according to a surprising new study.

The Pew Research Center found that 32.1% of people in that age group live in their parents' house, and slightly less 31.6% live with a spouse or romantic partner in their own homes, according to an analysis of 2014 census data.

The rest live alone, as single parents, or with another family member, an unrelated roommate, or in group-living situations such as a college dorm or prison.

The numbers don't represent a record percentage of young adults living at home with parents. In 1940, 35% of the age group lived at home — but an even higher percentage lived with a spouse or romantic partner. The results represent a "dramatic drop" in the share of young Americans who are choosing to settle down romantically before the age of 35, the center notes.

Dating back to 1880, the most common living arrangement among young adults had been living with a romantic partner. This situation peaked around 1960, when 62% of the nation's young adults were living with a spouse or romantic partner in their own household. Only one-in-five were living with their parents.

Now, the trend to stay home with mum and dad cuts across the demographic board. But it's more prevalent for men, with 35% of them living at home, while 28% live with a partner or spouse. The percentages are nearly perfectly reversed for women, with 29% living at home and 35% living with a spouse or romantic partner.

In 2014, more young women (16%) than young men (13%) were heading up a household without a spouse or partner — mainly because women are more likely than men to be single parents living with their children.

The stay-at-home trend is likely attributed to one key factor - the economy. Scarce jobs or low pay make it difficult for many millennials - now the largest American generation - to make it on their own.

That means those with fewer opportunities in a tough economy - including minorities and those with less than a college education - are more likely to stay in the family home, the survey found. For example, 36% of black and Hispanic millennials live with their parents, compared with 30% for those of white origin.

Part of the trend is the fallout from the Great Recession. But, the stay-at-home movement began as early as the 1970s, as inflation-adjusted wages began falling and male unemployment began to rise.

As women joined the workforce, female prosperity tended to rise. Unemployed women tend to stay at home. But so too do an increasing percentage of working women (though not to the same degree as young adult males), possibly because they are having a harder time finding prosperous husbands, speculates Pew's findings.

However, the US has a long way to go to catch up to stay-at-home European young adults. Across the EU, 48% tend to stay in the family home. The percentage is higher in Eastern Europe, particularly high — with 75% — in Macedonia.