The primary reason young women become financially independent quicker than men

In Early Adulthood: The Pursuit of Financial Independence, Merill Lynch offers some interesting insights into the wants and needs of young American adults. Before diving into the analytics, the study notes the shift in objectives that has occurred with many young people in recent years; one that sees them privilege financial milestones over more traditional ones like marriage for instance.

To 75% of the 2,000 Americans surveyed, you’re not an adult until you’ve achieved complete financial independence.  Sixty-one percent said that having a full-time job more accurately signaled maturity, and 42% cited living away from home.

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Under pressure

So what is making these young adults feel pressured as they pursue their financial dreams? Of all the stressors that rattle around the brain of the respondents observed, getting married and having children landed in the bottom three. The top three? Making a lot of money (82%), being more physically attractive (77%), and finding a better job/getting a promotion (77%).

These percentages suggest a pretty clear objective, except women, seem to be fairing a little better at acquiring it than young men are. The authors of the recent study proffer an intriguing delineation.

The race to leave the nest

Despite the bold assertions mentioned above, an additional 70% of Americans surveyed in Merill Lynch’s study received financial support from their parents in 2018. FIfty-eight percent of that group could not afford their lifestyle without a little help from their folks. It should be noted that among 18-24-year-olds these statistics remain relatively equal in men and women.

Although instances, where young adults requested assistance, was found to be reasonably common, women are much quicker than men to get their act together in the long-run-“despite the headwinds of unequal pay (median weekly earnings of full-time employed 25- to 34- year-olds is $864 for men but $766 for women).” Moreover, 11% more American women have degrees compared to men.

The discrepancy seems to be authored by a difference in priorities. Seventy percent of women reproached the temptation to seek help from their parents because it made them more dependent, compared to the 57% of men that agreed. This means women are making a concerted effort to launch both more quickly and closer to the target-i.e ensuring they earn degrees relevant to their desired fields, even if it means they make up a sizeable portion of the student debt demo. However, the outlay seems to be worth it, as the study reports, “Education translates into better job opportunities, and the labor force participation rate of early adult women continues to increase, while that of men has declined slightly.  Given the lifetime earnings value of higher education, these trends bode well for women in the future as more of them start their careers on higher trajectories.”

The finish line

Over the age of 30, 13% more men receive support from their parents than women. Below is a breakdown of the differences in the degrees men and women over the age of thirty receive assistance with different expenses.


As previously stated, having the long-view perpetually in mind continues to fuel women’s edge over men in the financial ecosystem. The vast majority of women (72%) studied in the recent report said that their highest economic priority was either saving for the future or eroding an existing debt. They were also found to be much less likely to tap into retirement accounts. The majority of men said that their priorities belong to enjoying life in the moment.

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