The Associated Press

WASHINGTON _A new analysis details something a lot of parents already knew: Young Americans are hanging around home longer and are more likely to move back once they finally do leave.

Delayed departure from the parental hearth reverses a trend of younger and younger independence that had been under way since the 1920s, according to the report by the independent Population Reference Bureau, which uses data from several earlier studies.

The 1990 census, for example, found that 21 percent of all 25-year-olds living in households were living with their parents, up from 15 percent in 1970.

"Leaving home has always been considered a transition to adulthood, but both the ages and reasons young people move out are changing," report sociologists Frances and Calvin Goldschneider of Brown University.

Traditionally, young people leave home "to get married, to get a job, to go to college or join the military," they said.

But today's young adults "came of age during recessions, tight job market, slow wage growth and soaring housing costs _ and amid the confusion of roles and behavior created by the gender revolution."

In short, today's twentysomethings "have been having a difficult time with their transitions to adulthood," and they find no "calling" to leave home.

At the same time, young people benefit from a stronger safety net from parents with jobs and steady incomes.

However, parents who left home at a younger age may be less understanding of young adults' continued need to be dependent, they note.

Their study: "Leaving and Returning Home in 20th Century America," focused on people aged 18 to 30. The Goldschneiders analyzed the 1990 census, studies of 60,000 people who graduated from high school in 1980 and 1982, and a variety of historical information.

They found that during this century each generation has tended to leave home at a slightly younger age than their parents did, until the mid-1970s.

And each generation has been more likely to return than those that preceded them.

Sons are more likely to return home than daughters, they found, with men coming home, at least for a while, after military or college.

In the early years of the century only one in 10 who left to marry returned home, compared to one in four among young people who left the nest in the 1960s. During the same time the share of marriages ending in divorce rose from 20 percent to 36 percent. And that climbed to nearly 50 percent in the 1980s.

Historically marriage was the primary reason women left the parental home, reaching 68 percent for women turning 18 in the 1930s. But that share fell to 49 percent in the 1960s and 33 percent between 1980 and 1987.

At the same time, the share of women turning 18 who left home for school rose from 10 percent in the 1930s to 28 percent in the 1980s and those leaving for other reasons _ jobs and independence for example _ climbed from 22 percent to 39 percent.

For young men, marriage was never the primary reason for leaving home, peaking at 40 percent before 1930 and falling to just 10 percent by the 1980s. Departure for school rose from 17 percent in the 1930s to 36 percent in the 1980s.

"World War II dramatically lowered the age young men left home," and joining the military was the reason 47 percent of men left their parents home in the 1940s, a share that fell to 39 percent for the 1950s and was only 9 percent by the 1980s. Read Next Article