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The University of Southampton
Economic, Social and Political Sciences

New report says more young adults are staying at home than in the past 20 years

Published: 9 December 2009 Origin:  Social Statistics and Demography

New report says more young adults are staying at home than in the past 20 years

More young adults in their late 20s and 30s are living with parents than in the past 20 years, according to research from the University of Southampton.

The study, led by researchers from the University's Social Sciences, is published in the latest edition of The Office for National Statistics journal 'Population Trends'. It shows that many young adults in their mid-20s and early 30s, and especially men, are increasingly postponing the transition to adulthood.

The research examined changes over the past 20 years in the living arrangements of young men and women aged 16-34 years, and how the proportions living with their parents differ by geographical region, education and economic activity.

The researchers found that although there appears to have been little change in the overall percentage of young adults aged 16-34 who live with their parents, there have been changes in the patterns of living arrangements among different age groups.

For example, living with parents has become less common among those in their early 20s. This may be partly attributable to the increase in access to higher education over the last 20 years, because although increasing numbers of students are staying in the family home, they are still very much in a minority, with most moving out to take up study.

In contrast, greater numbers in their mid-20s and early 30s were living with their parents in 2008 than in 1988, with the tendency to do so higher among males than females. The figures show that 25 per cent of men aged 25 to 29 now live with their parents, which is almost double the proportion of women in their late 20s (13 per cent) who still live at home.

The statistics also show that, for more than 10 per cent of men who have reached their early 30s, home is still with the parents; this compares with 5 per cent for women of a similar age.

Dr Juliet Stone , Research Fellow at the University of Southampton, and one of the authors of the article, says the reasons behind the change vary according to social class, and that the last 20 years have seen changes in the opportunities and constraints faced by young people in their transition to independent living.

She says: "The recent recession has been accompanied by a sharp increase in unemployment rates among young adults. Recent graduates, especially men, known as the 'boomerang children' are increasingly returning to live with their parents after graduating. Also, those with few educational qualifications are increasingly facing long periods of unemployment and can't afford to leave home."

Fellow author Professor Jane Falkingham , Director of the University's ESRC Centre for Population Change , adds that these factors only partly explain why people are also postponing forming families and perhaps marriage. She says: "It is also a reflection of the changing roles of men and women and changing expectations of conventional ages for partnership and family formation. It is unclear the extent to which remaining in (or returning to) the parental home is an outcome of choice rather than constraint for these 'emerging adults'."

The authors do say that their results suggest that the transition to residential independence among young adults is becoming increasingly protracted and reversible for all age groups.

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