The Average American Lives 18 Miles From Their Mom

iStock / iStock

Older parents might suffer from the effects of empty nest syndrome, but according to data from the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Study, when kids in America fly the coop, they don’t go very far.

The New York Times analyzed the survey of older Americans and found that on average, adults live just 18 miles from mom (researchers tend to focus on mothers because they are often the caregivers, and generally live longer than their male counterpart). The analysis also found that only 20 percent of Americans live more than a few hours from their parents by car.

It’s worth reading the full analysis over at the Times, but generally speaking, the close proximities are a result of families who rely on each other for support, both financially and practically. Americans have become less and less mobile over the course of the last few decades, in particular those with less education and lower incomes.

Economist Robert A. Pollak told the Times: “It speaks to a class divide in the population. Particularly as you go further down the socioeconomic scale, people are living pretty close to their parents, and this means they're able to provide help.”

The median distance from mom is farthest on the West Coast and in the Mountain States, and closest in the Northeast (Pennsylvania and New York) and South. Similarly, a 2010 Pew Research Center survey found that 37 percent of Americans have never lived outside their hometown, while 57 percent have never left their home state.

The overall trend is expected to continue as baby boomers are increasingly in need of caretaking and as more and more double-income families look for help with child care.

See how your state measures up and read more about the findings over at The Upshot.