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 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.
|Household and family type||Estimate (thousands)||Percentages|
|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 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|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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