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Large increase in 20 to 34-year-olds living with parents since 1996

The biggest percentage increase since the economic downturn has been among 20 to 24-year-olds

In 2013, over 3.3 million adults in the UK aged between 20 and 34 were living with a parent or parents. That is 26% of this age group.

The earliest year for which comparable statistics are available is 1996, when 2.7 million 20 to 34-year-olds lived with their parents, 21% of this age group.

This means that the number of 20 to 34-year-olds living with their parents has increased by 669,000 (or 25%) since 1996. This is despite the number of people in the population aged 20 to 34 being largely the same in 1996 and 2013 after a fall between 2002 and 2006. This rise in the number of young adults living with their parents has been recognised by academic research1.

Figure 1: Young adults aged 20-34 living with parents in the UK, 1996-2013

Figure 1: Young adults aged 20-34 living with parents in the UK, 1996-2013

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In 2013, 49% of 20 to 24-year-olds lived with their parents, compared to 21% of 25 to 29-year-olds and 8% of 30 to 34-year-olds. Compared with other age groups over the past five years, the percentage of those aged between 20 and 24 living with their parents has increased most noticeably. In 2008, 42% of 20 to 24-year-olds lived with their parents.

This may be due to the recent economic downturn, an argument consistent with academic research2. In addition, published figures3 show that 13% of the economically active population aged 18 to 24 was unemployed during April to June 2008, rising to 19% during April to June 2013. Research4 shows that the young unemployed are more likely to live in the parental home.

Young men were more likely than young women to live with parents

For every 10 women, 17 men aged 20 to 34 lived with their parents in 2013. This substantial difference can be explained by looking at the living situations of young adults. 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 form partnerships with men older than themselves. Thus more women than men in this age group were married or cohabiting.

In addition, 589,000 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 men5, often moving away from the parental home to do so. All of these factors contribute to fewer women than men aged 20 to 34 living with their parents.

Figure 2: Men and women aged 20-34 living with parents, UK, 2013

Figure 2: Men and women aged 20-34 living with parents, UK, 2013

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Percentage of adults living with parents decreased with age

At age 20, 65% of men and 52% of women were living with their parents in 2013. This decreases steadily until around the age of 30, after which the percentages remain more stable. By the age of 34, 8% of men and 3% of women were living with their parents.

A couple of factors may help explain this pattern. First, average earnings6 of young people increase during their twenties and level off in their mid-thirties. Second, the likelihood of living with a partner (either cohabiting or married) is higher at older ages.  At the age of 20, 8% of people were living with a partner in 2013. This increases to 70% 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.

Compared with 1996, a higher percentage of young adults lived with their parents at each age between 20 and 34 in 2013. The increase in the number of young adults living with parents coincides with an increase in the ratio of house prices paid by first time buyers to their incomes, which has risen from 2.7 to 4.47 over the same period. This may have reduced the ability of young adults to leave the parental home. Indeed, housing affordability is often cited as a key reason for young adults to continue living in their parental home8,9.

Figure 3: Percentage of men and women aged 20-34 living with parents by age, UK, 2013

Figure 3: Percentage of men and women aged 20-34 living with parents by age, UK, 2013

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Those living with parents were more likely to be unemployed

If the economic activity of those aged 20 to 34 who live with their parents is compared with those who don’t in 2013, similar employment rates are found.  But the percentage of those living with their parents who are unemployed (13%) is more than twice that of those who don’t (6%)10. Academic research11 has indicated that becoming unemployed is linked to returning to live in the parental home.

Meanwhile, 16% of those living with their parents were economically inactive12, lower than those who weren’t (20%). This is because these groups have different reasons for being inactive. 56% of those who were economically inactive and lived with their parents were students compared with 40% of those who did not live with their parents. Those who lived with their parents were also more likely to be inactive because they were sick or disabled than those who weren’t. Conversely a much larger proportion of those who were economically inactive and not living with their parents were looking after family (41%) than those who were living with their parents (2%).

Figure 4: Economic activity of those aged 20-34, UK, 2013

Figure 4: Economic activity of those aged 20-34, UK, 2013

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This story focuses on those aged 20 to 34 who live with their parents because only a small proportion of people still live with their parents at age 34. However in 2013, a further 510,000 people aged 35 to 64 (or 2%) lived with their parents. This percentage has remained largely stable since 1996. Of those aged 35 to 64 who were economically inactive and lived with their parents in 2013, 69% were inactive because they were sick or disabled, compared with 35% of those in this age group who did not live with their parents. Such people may be living with their parents because they need more care.

London had the lowest percentage of young adults living with parents

The percentage of young adults who were living with their parents in the three year period from 2011 to 201313 varies across the UK, from 22% in London to 36% in Northern Ireland. Both the proximity of cities and large towns for employment and the proximity of universities influence the percentage of young adults who live with their parents. The percentage is also dependent on the number of young people moving into or out of an area.

At 22%, 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. In 2013 in London, 7% of households consisted of two or more people who were all unrelated, more than double the national average of 3%. The average (median) age of people living in such households in the UK was 25.

Figure 5: Young adults aged 20-34 living with parents by UK country / English region, 2011-2013

Figure 5: Young adults aged 20-34 living with parents by UK country / English region, 2011-2013

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Northern Ireland had the highest percentage of young adults living with parents

A couple of factors give an indication of the reasons for the higher percentage of young adults living with parents in Northern Ireland. First, 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. Second, 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 slightly 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 or cohabiting may be shorter in Northern Ireland than elsewhere. Academic literature14 supports the geographic patterns found here.

Most EU countries had a higher percentage of young adults living with parents

The percentage of 25 to 34-year-olds living with their parents varied across Europe from 2% in Denmark to 15% in the UK and 68% in Croatia. 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 attitudes towards and age at cohabitation and first marriage, income, participation in higher education, affordability of housing and unemployment rates across different countries15. Of the 28 countries in the European Union, only six (all in north-western Europe) had a lower percentage of 25 to 34-year-olds living with their parents than the UK16.

Who uses these statistics and how can I find out more?

These statistics are used by those who want to understand the society in which they live, those concerned with the economic pressures on young adults, housing affordability and those interested in housing supply. Such people include policy makers, journalists, housing charities, housing associations, house building companies, researchers, academics and members of the general public.

These statistics were compiled and analysed by the Demographic Analysis Unit. If you’d like to find out more about our statistics about families you can read our annual publication and see further stories, for example on family size. If you have any comments, suggestions or questions, we’d like to hear them. Please email us at families@ons.gsi.gov.uk (preferred) or call +44(0)1329 447890.

Footnotes

  1. The changing determinants of UK young adults’ living arrangements

  2. Understanding Society Research Conference keynote address: Changing dynamics of young adults’ household transitions: what can we learn from BHPS and Understanding Society? By Professor Ann Berrington, University of Southampton

  3. Table A06 in Labour Market Statistics, ONS

  4. The changing determinants of UK young adults’ living arrangements

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

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

  7. Table 30 of the house price index publication provides ratios of average house prices to incomes of borrowers.

  8. Shelter: Housing costs force 1 in 10 back to Mum and Dad

  9. Parents feel the strain as grown-up kids remain living at home

  10. The percentage of people unemployed is different to the unemployment rate. This is because the percentage is calculated as unemployed people divided by all people for that age group, whereas the unemployment rate is calculated as unemployed people divided by people who are either employed or unemployed for that age group.

  11. Understanding Society Research Conference keynote address: Changing dynamics of young adults’ household transitions: what can we learn from BHPS and Understanding Society? By Professor Ann Berrington, University of Southampton

  12. Economically inactive people are those without a job who have not actively sought work in the last four weeks, and/or are not available to start work in the next two weeks. The inactivity rate is calculated by dividing the number of economically inactive people by the population for that age group

  13. Using estimates for one year at regional level means that the percentages vary between years due to the sample size of the estimates. Therefore three years of data have been aggregated together to form a more robust estimate.

  14. The changing living arrangements of young adults in the UK

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

  16. The EU Statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC) is the source of the European comparisons. The statistics are for 2011 and can be found on the Eurostat web page Income and Living Conditions.

Background notes

  1. Get the data in this release

  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. Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity, also published research showing that one in ten people aged between 20 and 40 are living with their parents because they can’t afford to buy or rent a home. In due course estimates of the number of young adults living with their parents will be available from the 2011 Census.

  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. However further analysis of the Labour Force Survey reveals that in 2013, 264,000 people aged between 20 and 34 lived in their parent, step-parent or parent-in-law's home in couples or lone parents. Divorced and widowed children aged 20 to 34 who have moved back in with their parents are also excluded from the analysis.

  4. This analysis is based on the Labour Force Survey household dataset, which is available from 1996 onwards. Statistics from the 2013 dataset were first published on 28 August 2013. 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. However people in other communal establishments such as prisons are excluded. Students who live in halls of residence during term-time and with their parents out of term-time are considered to be not living with their parents in this analysis.

  5. The statistics are based on responses to the Labour Force Survey in the April to June quarter each year. Because the estimates are based on a survey, all estimates produced are subject to sampling variability. The estimates by age group and sex are robust but for single years of age and for UK countries and English regions, the estimates are less precise. For this reason, three years of data have been aggregated together to produce a more robust regional picture.

  6. Further information about the Labour Force Survey (including how the information is collected and what information is asked of respondents) can be found in the Labour Force Survey user guidance. Further information about the quality of the Labour Force Survey can be found in the Performance and Quality Monitoring Reports.

Categories: Population, Families, Families, Children and Young People, Families with Children, Family Composition, People and Places, Housing and Households, Households, Household Composition and Characteristics, Living Arrangements
Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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