Skip to main navigation Skip to main content
The University of Southampton
Economic, Social and Political Sciences

New research identifies why young adults return to the parental home

Published: 11 November 2013

Researchers from the ESRC Centre for Population Change (CPC) based in Social Sciences at the University of Southampton have identified key ‘turning-points’ in young adults’ lives which influence whether or not they return to the parental home

Dr Juliet Stone, Professor Ann Berrington and Professor Jane Falkingham have found that factors such as leaving full-time education, unemployment, or a relationship break-up, are highly significant in whether young people go back to living with their parents.

Dr Juliet Stone comments: “The idea of a generation of young adults ‘boomeranging’ back to the parental home has recently gained widespread currency in the British press. Our research aims to clarify this and examine the factors that contribute to their decision to return home.”

The CPC team used the long-running British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) to examine how major changes in young adults’ lives contribute to their decision to ‘return’ to the ‘safety-net’ of the parental home. The BHPS began in 1991 and was aimed at understanding social and economic change at the individual and household level. As part of this survey, 5,000 young men and women in their 20s and 30s were interviewed every year until 2008 – data which the Southampton team have now examined.

The results of the new study by the CPC indicate that overall, the act of returning to the parental home is in fact relatively uncommon, with an average of only 2 per cent of young adults ‘returning’ during the 17 years to 2008. The findings show that overall, there has been little change in the likelihood of returning over time, apart from among women in their early twenties. The researchers suggest that this reflects the rising number of young women going to university, who then return home after completing their studies. Returning is also much more common when young adults are in their early twenties and remains a relatively rare event once they reach their thirties. The investigators go on to show, however, that returning home is prevalent for certain subgroups of young adults, even when they reach their early thirties.

Privacy Settings