The shifts may be contributing to changes in social norms about when adulthood begins.
A shrinking share of parents — about 67 percent — believe that children should become financially independent by age 22, while 31 percent say it need not occur until age 25 or later, according to the Pew survey. In 1993, 80 percent of parents said children should be independent by age 22.
"I'm surprised young adults remain so optimistic," said Mark Mather, an associate vice president at the Population Reference Bureau who has analyzed the census data. "The research points to long-term economic problems for young adults. But many of the trends we are seeing among young people — postponing marriage, living at home, staying in school longer — can be viewed more as short-term ways to cope until the economy picks up."
Pew based its findings on Bureau of Labor Statistics data as well as a poll of 2,048 adults interviewed by cellphone or landline from Dec. 6-19, 2011. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points for all respondents, higher for subgroups.
Pew Social and Demographic Trends: http://pewsocialtrends.org/
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