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Young Adults Living With Parents in the UK, 2011

Released: 29 May 2012 Download PDF

20 per cent increase in 20 to 34 year olds living with parents since 1997

In 2011, nearly 3.0 million adults aged between 20 and 34 were living with a parent or parents, an increase of almost half a million, or 20 per cent, since 1997. This is despite the number of people in the population aged 20 to 34 being largely the same in 1997 and 2011.

Figure 1: Men and women aged 20-34 living with parents, UK, 1997-2011

Figure 1: Men and women aged 20-34 living with parents, UK, 1997-2011

Notes:

  1. Source: Labour Force Survey, Office for National Statistics

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Figure 1 shows that 1.8 million men and 1.1 million women aged between 20 and 34 were living with their parents in 2011. While the numbers have grown steadily since 1997, so have the proportions. In 1997, one in four men and one in seven women aged 20 to 34 lived with their parents. This had grown to one in three men and one in six women by 2011. The substantial difference between men and women can be explained by looking at where other young adults of this age live.

Table 1: Living arrangements of young adults, UK, 2011

Household and family type Estimate (thousands) Percentages
Male Female Male Female
Living with parents 1,843 1,120 29 18
Living as a couple in their own household 2,489 3,122 39 50
Living in a household with one or more others but no families1 935 578 15 9
Living alone 611 347 10 6
Living as a lone parent in their own household 29 643 0 10
Living in a family with another family2 162 218 3 4
Living as a sole person with a family3 214 110 3 2
Living in student halls of residence4 68 60 1 1
Total 6,351 6,199 100 100

Table notes:

  1. Examples of ‘living in a household with one or more others but no families’ include living with friends, housemates or siblings but no couples or lone parents.

  2. Examples of ‘living in a family with another family’ might be two sisters with their children, a lone mother living with her parents or a couple living with one partner’s grandparents.
  3. Examples of ‘living as a sole person with a family’ include living as a lodger, living with a sibling and their spouse, or living with a cousin and their child.
  4. Only those who live in a UK household out of term-time, for example with parents or with a partner, are included in estimates of young adults ‘living in student halls of residence’. Other young adults living in student halls of residence, such as those living abroad out of term-time, are not covered by the Labour Force Survey.

  5. Source: Labour Force Survey, Office for National Statistics

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Table 1 shows that in the 20 to 34 age group, over 600,000 more women than men were living as part of a couple in their own household. The main reason for this is that on average, women tend to form partnerships with men older than themselves. Thus there were more women in this age group who had formed cohabiting or married relationships than men. In addition, over 600,000 more women than men were lone parents in their own household. When relationships end, women are more likely than men to take the caring responsibilities for any children. Finally, women are more likely to participate in higher education than men, often moving away from the parental home to do so. All of these factors contribute to fewer women aged 20 to 34 living with their parents than men.

Percentage of adults living with their parents decreases with age

Figure 2: Percentage of men and women aged 20-34 living with their parents by age and sex, UK, 2011

Figure 2: Percentage of men and women aged 20-34 living with their parents by age and sex, UK, 2011

Notes:

  1. Source: Labour Force Survey, Office for National Statistics

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Figure 2 shows that the percentage of men and women who live with their parents decreases with age. At age 20, 64 per cent of men and 46 per cent of women were living with their parents in 2011. This decreases steadily until around the age of 30, after which the percentages remain more stable. By the age of 34, only 7 per cent of men and 2 per cent of women were living with their parents.

A couple of factors are associated with this age pattern. Firstly, average earnings of young people increase during their twenties and level off in their mid thirties. Secondly, the likelihood of living with a partner (either cohabiting or married) is higher at older ages: at the age of 20, 11 per cent of people were living with a partner in 2011. This increases to over 65 per cent by the age of 31. When it comes to moving out of the parental home, having a higher income and a partner to share the cost of renting or buying a home makes it more affordable.

The increase in the number of young adults living with parents over the past decade coincides with an increase in the average house price paid by first time buyers, which rose by 40 per cent between 2002 and 2011. In addition the increasing ratio of house prices to the incomes of first time buyers is well documented. These factors may have reduced the ability of young adults to leave the parental home.

London has the lowest percentage of young adults living with parents

Figure 3: Percentage of young adults aged 20-34 living with parents, 2011

UK country / English region

Figure 3: Percentage of young adults aged 20-34 living with parents, 2011

Notes:

  1. Source: Labour Force Survey, Office for National Statistics

The percentage of young adults who were living with their parents in 2011 varies across the UK, from 19.7 per cent in London to 35.3 per cent in Northern Ireland.

London has the lowest percentage of young adults who were living in their parental home. London has a large influx of young adults from other areas of the UK and from abroad due to increased employment and study opportunities. Sharing a household with friends or housemates is more common among young adults and migrants than older adults as a way of reducing the cost of housing. In 2011 in London 6.8 per cent of households consisted of two or more people who were unrelated, more than double the national average of 3.2 per cent. The average (median) age of people living in such households in the UK was 25.

A couple of factors give an indication of the reasons for the higher percentage of young adults living with parents in Northern Ireland. Firstly, the size of Northern Ireland means that it is more feasible to commute to work or university and remain living with parents than in other parts of the UK.

Secondly, the prevalence of cohabitation in Northern Ireland is around half of that observed in the rest of the UK. Conversely, the average age at first marriage in Northern Ireland is around a year lower than in England and Wales. These factors paint a more traditional picture of families in Northern Ireland, whereby young adults move out of the parental home later, cohabit less and marry earlier than in the rest of the UK. In other words, the time between leaving home and marrying may be shorter in Northern Ireland than elsewhere.

Young adults tend to leave the parental home earlier in the UK and other north-western European countries than in southern and eastern European countries such as Spain or Italy. The reasons for this are complex, involving differences in age at cohabitation and first marriage, income, affordability of housing and unemployment rates across different countries.

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Further information

Media contact:

Tel: Media Relations Office +44 (0)845 6041858

Emergency on-call +44 (0)7867 906553

Email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

Statistical contact:

Tel: Emily Knipe +44 (0)1329 447890

Email: families@ons.gsi.gov.uk

Background notes

  1. The Office for National Statistics would appreciate feedback on the uses made of the statistics and the usefulness of the information provided. Please email families@ons.gsi.gov.uk (preferred) or call +44 (0)1329 444677 to provide feedback.

  2. Further information about young adults living with parents can be found in the Population Trends article The changing living arrangements of young adults in the UK and the Demographic Research article The changing determinants of UK young adults’ living arrangements. Both of these articles are written by academics.

  3. Once a person either lives with a partner or has a child, they are considered to have formed their own family and are no longer counted as being part of their parents’ family even if they still live in the same household. Therefore such people are deemed to be not living with their parents in this article.

  4. This analysis is based on the Labour Force Survey household dataset, which is available from 1997 onwards. Statistics from the 2011 dataset were first published in September 2011.

  5. The Labour Force Survey is a household survey of people in the UK. It covers people in private households, NHS accommodation and students in halls of residence whose parents live in the UK. Such students are included through proxy interviews with their parents. However people in other communal establishments such as prisons are excluded.

  6. Information about participation in higher education by gender can be found on the Higher Education Statistics Agency website.

  7. Information about average earnings is available on the ONS website.

  8. Information about house prices and affordability can be found on the ONS website and in Shelter's policy briefing on home ownership.

  9. The source of the European analysis is Leaving home: Independence, togetherness and income in Europe, UN Expert Paper 2011/10.

  10. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

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