Three million 20-34-year-olds yet to fly the nest

Wednesday, 30 May 2012 07:47

By Ben Salisbury

Official data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows that 1.8 million young men and 1.1 million young women aged 20-34 are still living at home, bringing into sharp focus the difficulty that a generation has in affording to live independently.

The ONS research shows that one in three men and one in three women still lives at home with their parents due to high rents and the difficulty of saving for a deposit and getting a first mortgage.

Many of the people included in the statistics have moved out before but have had to move back due to the dificulties in financing an independent life. people returning to their parents home after leaving have been dubbed the "boomerang generation."

Some will have "flown the nest" to attend college or university but have had to return to their parents home to repay debt or save enough money to be able to make their next move. 

The figure of 1.9 million young people who have still not left home is an increase of 20 per cent on figures released in 1997 when one in four men and one in four women of the age group still lived with their parents. The population figures for people in this age group have not seen a corresponding increase.

Meanwhile separate figures released by Rightmove showed that 30 per cent of tenants spend more than half of their take-home pay on rent.

The ONS said that one reason for the increase is that it “coincides with an increase in the average price paid by first-time homebuyers of 40% between 2002 and 2011".

The discrepancy between the sexes, with 700,000 more men living at home is that women tend to move in with older male partners.

Other reasons for the higher number of young adults who are still waiting to move out are rising house prices and higher levels of debt after university. The average property has risen in price by 40 per cent over the period.

David Orr from the National Housing Federation said: "The options are severely limited and out of reach for many young people. Much more needs to be done to tackle this country’s dire housing crisis. Unless we build significantly more homes, it will only get worse."

The higher cost of borrowing for a mortgage, the bigger deposits required and an increase in the loan-to-value ratio of loans advanced from banks and building societies to first-time buyers are also contributing factors, according to the official data.

A further factor is that people aged 25-34 have much worse credit records than they used to have. A report from the Insolvency Service published in December 2011 reveals that people aged 25-34 had the highest proportion of debt relief orders. These allow debts of up to £15,000 to be written off but reduce the credit rating of people who use them and make it difficult to borrow.

London has the lowest proportion of people aged 20-34 living at home, just 20 per cent, despite having the highest house prices and rents of any other region in the UK. Northern Ireland has the highest proportion at 35.5 per cent, partly due to its close geographical ties and dependence on the troubled economy south of the border.

Ten per cent of women in the age bracket live as a single parent, compared to less than one per cent of men. Ten per cent of men live on their own, compared to six per cent of women.

By the time they reach 34, just seven per cent of men still live at home and just two per cent of women.

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