Social Progress (Well-Being) Index – US Falls to #18

Social Progress (Well-Being) Index – US Falls to #18
Photo by midiman


by Gary D. Halbert

June 27, 2017

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  1. Millennial Trends Hurting Men More Than Women
  2. World Happiness Report: US Falls From #13 to #14
  3. Social Progress (Well-Being) Index – US Falls to #18

One-Third of Millennials Are Living With Parents

As the father of two Millennials (ages 27 and 25), I pay a great deal of attention to articles and studies on this largest generation of 75.4 million Americans. Given the sheer size of this generation and its vast effect on the economy for decades to come, we should all be paying attention to trends within this massive group.

While both of my kids are out of college and very successfully employed and living on their own, tens of millions of Millennials are struggling to find good jobs and are opting to live with their parents or other relatives out of necessity.

Four decades ago, in the mid-1970s, young American adults in the 18-to-34 age bracket – now known as “Millennials” – were far more likely to be married and living with a spouse than living in their parents’ home. But that is no longer the case, according to a study by the US Census Bureau earlier this year. The Census Bureau study stated:

“There are now more young people living with their parents than in any other arrangement… What is more, almost 9 in 10 young people who were living in their parents’ home a year ago are still living there today, making it [sadly] the most stable living arrangement.”

The Number 1 living arrangement today for Americans in the 18-to-34 age bracket, according to the Census Bureau, is to reside without a spouse in their parents’ home. That is where you can now find almost 23 million Millennials – or almost one third. That compared to just 19.9 million who are married and live with their spouse in their own home or apartment.

Millennials In 2015, it was even worse than this year’s figures from the Census Bureau. Take a look at the chart at left. Almost 40% of Millennials were living with their parents in 2015.

In 1975, according to Census Bureau data, 31.9 million Americans in the 18-to-34 age bracket were married and lived with their spouse. Back then, this was by far the most common living arrangement for that age bracket.

Also in 1975, only 14.7 million people in the 18-to-34 age bracket lived in their parents’ home; but 6.1 million lived in an “other” arrangement (including with siblings, grandparents, other relatives, or unrelated roommates); and 3.1 million lived alone, and 0.7 million cohabitated with an unmarried partner.

In 2016, according to the Census Bureau, only 19.9 million Millennials were married and lived with a spouse – while 22.9 million lived in their parents’ home. Also in 2016, 15.6 million lived in an “other” arrangement, 9.2 million cohabitated with an unmarried partner and 5.9 million lived alone.

In 1975, when calculated as percentages according to the Census numbers, 57% of 18-to-34 year-olds lived with a spouse, 26% lived in their parents’ home, 11% lived in an “other” arrangement, 5% lived alone, and 1% lived with an unmarried partner.

In 2016, 31% lived in their parents’ home, 27% lived with their spouse, 21% lived in an “other” arrangement, 12% lived with an unmarried partner and 8% lived alone. If we combine the 31% living with parents and the 21% “other,” that’s 52% of Millennials who can’t afford to live on their own today!

Millennial Trends Hurting Men More Than Women

The rise in young adults living at home coincided with a decline in the economic status of young men. The latest Census Bureau study concluded:

“More young men are falling to the bottom of the income ladder. In 1975, only 25% of men, aged 25 to 34, had incomes of less than $30,000 per year. By 2016, that share rose to 41% of young men.”

“There are now more young women than young men with a college degree, whereas in 1975 educational attainment among young men outpaced that of women.”

Also, in the last decade, the pace of change in the living arrangements of young Americans has been rapid, but has not been uniform across the states and regions of the country.

“Within the last 10 years, the breadth and speed of change in living arrangements have been tremendous. In 2005, the majority of young people lived independently in their own household (either alone, with a spouse, or an unmarried partner), which was the predominant living arrangement in 35 states. By 2015 just a decade later only six states had a majority of young people living independently.”

With the exceptions of California and Mississippi, the Top 10 states with the highest percentages of 18-to-34 year-olds living with their parents were concentrated along the Atlantic coast. They included: New Jersey (46.9%), Connecticut (41.6%), New York (40.6%) Maryland (38.5%), Florida (38.3%), Rhode Island (37.1%), Pennsylvania (37.1%), Massachusetts (37.0%) – plus California (38.1%) and Mississippi (36.8%).

With the exceptions of Washington and Oregon, the 10 states with the lowest percentages of 18-to-34 year-olds living with their parents were concentrated in the Midwest and the Mountain states.

These included North Dakota (14.1%), South Dakota (19.9%), Wyoming (20.9%), Nebraska (22.7%), Iowa (22.8%), Montana (24.1%), Colorado (24.6%), Kansas (26.0%), Washington (26.6%) and Oklahoma (26.7%), which tied with Oregon (26.7%). The Census study asked:

“Why are there geographical differences in young adult living arrangements?  For one, local labor and housing markets shape the ability of young people to find good jobs and affordable housing which in turn affects whether and when they form their own households.”

I could go on and on with troubling statistics on trends among Millennials, but I think you get the picture.  I will continue to comment on these trends in the weeks and months ahead.

World Happiness Report: US Falls From #13 to #14

If you live in the US, chances are you feel worse today than you did 10 years ago. Don’t worry, it’s not you. This is a national problem: America’s rank on the international happiness scale is falling. When it comes to happiness, the US was ranked 14th among 155 countries in the latest United Nations’ annual World Happiness Report released earlier this year.

Norway was judged to be the happiest country in the world in 2016. The Scandinavian nation, which was ranked fourth in last year’s report, jumped to the top this year on the basis of several key calculations for measuring social happiness. Among them are levels of caring, freedom to make life decisions, generosity, good governance, honesty, health and income.

Other factors by which 155 countries were measured in the annual World Happiness Report are: employment, income inequality, life expectancy, GDP per capita, public trust (ie – a lack of corruption in government and business), and social support.

Denmark, last year’s Happiest Country, was ranked second on this year’s list, followed by Iceland, Switzerland and Finland. The bottom five countries on the list were Rwanda, Syria, Tanzania, Burundi, and Central African Republic.


The rankings were created using the average of three years of surveys. Researchers asked residents of the 155 nations surveyed to rate their level of happiness on a scale of zero to 10. Nordic countries were the happiest overall.

Among the notable findings in this year’s report:

Happiness is falling in America, thanks primarily to a drop in four key indicators – access to social support, a sense of reduced personal freedom, lower charitable donations, and a perceived increase in corruption – rather than economic causes. The report noted:

  • Unemployment, or the quality of the work they have, is a major factor in people’s happiness.  A rise in unemployment, in fact, affects the happiness of everyone, even those with jobs. And while higher pay clearly makes workers happier, the work-life balance, job security, health and safety, social capital and autonomy are also predictive of a higher state of happiness on the job.
  • Despite China’s momentous rise in GDP over the past quarter-century, the subjective well-being of the Chinese has fallen, because of unemployment, changes in social safety nets, and periodic drops in life expectancy during that period.
  • In wealthier Western countries, mental health was considered a more important determinant in personal happiness than income, employment or physical health. In all countries, misery would be reduced more by eliminating depression and anxiety disorders than by reducing poverty, unemployment or physical illness.
  • Sluggish development in Africa following the end of colonial rule has led many Africans to express greater disappointment and lower levels of happiness compared to the aspirations expressed when they were first surveyed in the 1960s, though the report notes that Africans continue to express optimism about the future.

Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and a co-author of the annual happiness report, says attention must be drawn to the importance of creating sound policy for what matters most to people: their well-being. Sachs noted:

“As demonstrated by many countries, this report gives evidence that happiness is a result of creating strong social foundations. It’s time to build social trust and healthy lives, not guns or walls. Let’s hold our leaders to this fact.”

Social Progress (Well-Being) Index – US Falls to #18

America leads the world when it comes to access to higher education. But when it comes to health, well-being, environmental protection and fighting discrimination, America trails many other developed countries – according to the Social Progress Imperative, a US-based nonprofit which produces its annual Social Progress Index.

In this survey, nations are ranked on 50 metrics in the areas of basic human needs, foundations of well-being and opportunity to progress. Also included were environmental factors and the level of discrimination. The latest survey results released earlier this month ranked 128 countries.

Unlike the World Happiness Index, the Social Progress Index (SPI) is designed to reveal how people live their lives (well-being) and whether the people have an opportunity to reach their full potential. It does not take into account economic factors.

Like the Happiness Index, Scandinavia dominated the top four spots on this Index. Denmark ranked the highest. America continued to fall to #18, down from #16. Here are the results:


SPI produces the report in part to help city, state and national policymakers diagnose and address their most pressing challenges.

As Bloomberg writer Eric Roston noted after seeing the latest report: “The U.S. may be underperforming, but so is the rest of the world. American progress, like that of other rich nations, has stalled for four years running. Based on overall world GDP, humanity as a whole could be doing a much more efficient job taking care of itself.”

I don’t know about you, but I would rather live in America than in any of the countries ranked higher than the US in both surveys shown above!

All the best,

Gary D. Halbert


More Millennials living with parents

How many Millennials live with their parents by state

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