personal finance

EU data shows rise in employed young people living with parents

The proportion of employed young people living with their parents in the EU have risen significantly in recent years, data from an EU agency shows, with Ireland outstripping other nations amid an acute housing crisis.

An analysis of Eurostat data shared exclusively with the Guardian found that on average across the bloc, the proportion of 25- to-34-year-olds in employment living in their parental home had risen from 24% to 27% between 2017 and 2022.

Ireland, where rents have doubled since 2013, had a 13-percentage-point rise in working young people living with their parents, from 27% to 40% of the cohort, according to the analysis by Eurofound, the EU agency for the improvement of living and working conditions.

The figures included people in full-time and part-time employment.

Other countries that recorded increases between 2017 and 2022 included Portugal, where the proportion rose from 41% to 52%, and Spain, where it increased from 35% to 42%. In France it rose from 10% to 12%, while Italy recorded a rise from 41% to 48% and Croatia from 58% to 65%.

Eurofound has published a wide-ranging report outlining the challenges facing young people in the EU, including housing, the cost of living crisis, mental health and precarious employment.

While there have been some positive trends around work – the report found youth employment had recovered to its highest levels since 2007, although precarious employment remains a concern – increases in the cost of living have put up roadblocks for many.

“Young people living with their parents are more likely to have difficulties making ends meet and to be unable to afford unexpected expenses, suggesting that those from less well-off homes are less likely to be able to move out,” the report’s authors found.

Recent rises in the cost of living come against a backdrop of rising housing costs across the eurozone: between 2010 and 2022, property prices across the eurozone surged by 47%, according to a 2023 Eurostat report.

The Eurofound report showed that half of young people living with their parents would like to move out within a year, but only 28% said they actively planned to do so. Being unable to live independently was likely to have a knock-on effect on wellbeing, with the report’s authors finding it was sometimes associated with a sense of social exclusion.

There was a marked discrepancy between different EU countries on the issue of young employed people living in the parental home, with more than half of 25- to 34-year-olds remaining at home in several southern and eastern member states. Financial strain was reported most by young people in parts of this region – with 42% of 15- to 29-year-olds in Bulgaria and 72% in Greece experiencing it, compared with 6.3% in Luxembourg and in the Netherlands.

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The research also noted the crucial role that cultural differences played in the discrepancies between member states around living in the parental home.

The report’s lead author, Eszter Sándor, said: “A lot of previous research found that in many southern and eastern European countries, family ties are strong, while government support for young people is relatively low. In comparison, in Nordic countries the norm is to leave the family home around the age of 18 – this is also encouraged by parents and the state,” she said.

In Ireland, Sándor said, it had become “common for young people to live with their parents either due to necessity, or as part of a family decision to help save money for a future mortgage deposit,” she said. “These reasons may also explain why, in a crisis situation (eg pandemic, recession), young people are more likely to move back to their parents in some countries than in others.”

She said that while remaining in the parental home could offer some financial security, employed young people – particularly those aged 25 and over – “were found to feel more socially excluded if living with their parents, and had lower mental wellbeing, linked to feelings of lack of autonomy and freedom”.

Sorcha Edwards, the secretary general of the NGO Housing Europe, said: “New economic and social realities in Europe have pushed people who did not typically require publicly supported housing options in previous generations. They are now struggling to find suitable housing options on the private market.”


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