27% of 20-34 year olds lived with their parents in 2022, just over one in four adults.
Some of the reasons for this include structural factors such as low wages for younger people and high house prices, but also cultural factors such. as uncertainty over relationships.
This post is designed to help you revise the ‘increasing family diversity‘ of the AS Sociology families and households module
Statistics on young people living with their parents
According to the Office for National Statistics the proportion of 20-34 year olds living with their parents in 2022 was
- 27% of 20-34 year olds in total
- 31% of males
- 22% of females.
So there was a significant gender divide!
The numbers have increased for every age category since 2011, again according to the Office for National Statistics, the number of young adults living with their parents by age in 2021 compared to 2011 was:
- 56% of 20 year olds, up from 52% in 2011.
- 37% of 25 year olds, up from 28%.
- 16% of 30 year olds, up from 12%.
- 7% of 35 year olds, up from 6% in 2011.
Diversity of experience
However – Not all ‘Kippers*’ are the same! (*Kids living in their parents’ pockets)
It is important to keep in mind that not all ‘adult kids’ are the same; experiences of living at home with your parents into your 30s will vary.
For example, the experience of being a NEET and living at home with your parents may well be different to being one of the ‘Boomerang Kids’ – who move out to go to university but then move back in with their parents afterwards
Some adult kids would have lived at home continuously, but many would have moved out for a period with a partner, and then moved back in again.
Adult-Kids will also vary as to the extent to which they are forced into living with their parents due to financial reasons, or choose to do so for ‘lifestyle reasons’.
Experiences will also differ depending on parental attitudes to having their adult children living with them.
Why are more young adults living with their parents?
We can break this down into two broad sets of explanation:
- structural structural
- cultural changes
Many commentators stress that young adults have no choice but to live with their parents, focusing on structural (mainly economic) reasons that force people to live with their parents.
The following structural changes mean it is harder for young people to transition to independent living.
The expansion of higher education
The massive expansion in higher education has seen the number of undergraduate students triple since 1970, from 414,000 to 1.4 million in 2022. This means more young adults are not in work and economically dependent on their parents for longer.
The cost of Living Crisis
The recent sharp increase in young people living with their parents maybe due to the high inflation rates since 2021.
Young people generally earn less and live in rented accommodation and the cost of food, energy and rent prices would have driven many back to live at home with their parents.
Rising house prices
House prices in the UK have risen massively since the 1990s and today less than 50% of 18-35 year olds own their homes compared to to almost 70% in the mid 1990s.
Many will stay living at home longer in order to save up a deposit to buy a first home rather than waste money on rent.
There are also cultural changes which mean young adults are more likely to choose to live with their parents even when they could move out.
More uncertainty about what a ‘normal relationship’ is.
Changing roles of men and women and changing expectations of relationships and family life result in young people being more reluctant to settle down in a classic long term relationship.
Changing norms about age
The meaning of ‘being 20 something is different today to what it was in the 1970s. Today, we simply want to ‘settle down’ later in life – 20s have become about ‘pulling and dating’, ‘30s about serious long term relationships, and late 30s about children. Of those 20 somethings who do flee the parental nest, they are increasingly likely to either live alone or share with friends. The number of young couple households has been decreasing in recent years.
High rates of relationship breakdowns
The increasing number of ‘kippers’ might also be linked to the increasing instability of relationships. There are plenty of late 20s and 30 somethings who have previously moved in with a partner for a few years, suffered a relationship breakdown, ended up back with their parents and are now reluctant to recommit!
Perspectives on the ‘not quite children’
Most of the commentary on this social trend seems to be negative – focussing on such things as:
- The increase in family tensions
- The fact that people are forced into starting families later.
- It means it takes children longer to become truly independent – less able to grow up. (This strongly worded article even argues over-parenting is akin to child abuse)
Some research, however, suggests that adults living at home with their parents can be a positive thing – As this research, based on 500 ‘adult-kids’ in the USA suggests
‘Few 20-somethings who live at home are mooching off their parents. More often, they are using the time at home to gain necessary credentials and save money for a more secure future.
Helicopter parents aren’t so bad after all. Involved parents provide young people with advantages, including mentoring and economic support, that have become increasingly necessary to success.’
This is one of the topics within the families and households module, typically taught in the first year of A-level sociology.
Sources/ Find out More
Barbara Ellen of the Guardian really doesn’t approve – NB most of the commentators don’t approve of her views either!