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The proportion of young people living with their parents has not increased during the pandemic

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The proportion of young people (non-students aged 18-34-years-old) who live at home with their parents has not increased over the course of the pandemic, and those who did move home were predominantly low-paid or unemployed, according to a new report published today (Monday) by the Resolution Foundation.

The report Boom(erang) Time? – funded by the Nuffield Foundation – examines the trend of young people living with their parents before and during the pandemic, and what key factors are influencing workers to make this move.

The report notes while various stages of the pandemic have upended people’s living conditions, the overall proportion of young people living with their parents has hardly changed over the 15 months since the crisis began. 23 per cent of 18-34-year-old non-students reported living with their parents in June 2021 – a small decrease compared to the proportion pre-crisis (25 per cent in February 2020).

Of those who did move in with their parents during the pandemic, the lowest-paid young workers were more than twice as likely to move compared to the highest-paid workers (8 per cent compared to 3 per cent).

The report finds that 23 per cent of the lowest-paid young workers were already living with their parents before the pandemic – and remained there throughout the crisis – compared with 3 per cent of the highest-paid young workers. This concentration of low-paid young people living at home prior to the pandemic helps to explain why the pandemic has had less of an impact than many would have expected, says the Foundation.

While the pandemic has not seen a big rise in young adults living with their parents, the last few decades have, particularly for the disadvantaged.

Workless younger adults (19-29-year-olds, excluding students) have become increasingly likely to live with their parents, with nearly half of workless young adults (47 per cent) living with parents in 2019, up from one-in-four (25 per cent) in 1996. These long-run trends mean that many of the young people who have been most affected by the crisis were already living at home before it hit.

Many of those who moved to their parents’ homes during the crisis see this as a temporary situation. Less than one-third (29 per cent) of those who moved in since the onset of the pandemic expect to remain living there in six months’ time.

In contrast, among those who were already living with their parents before the pandemic, a majority (70 per cent) expect to still be living at home in six months.

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This creates the danger of a ‘parents’ postcode lottery’ for these workers, as their ability to find a good job – and one that pays enough to allow them to save – could be constrained by the labour market surrounding their parents’ home.

Maja Gustafsson, Economist at the Resolution Foundation, said:

“At the start of the crisis, many people expected an army of ‘boomerang’ millennials to return to their ‘boomer’ parents’ homes. But in fact, a year on from the onset of the crisis, young people are no more likely to live with their parents than pre-Covid.

“Furthermore, ‘boomerang’ millennials are not principally a middle class phenomenon. Those young people who have moved back or stayed with parents during the pandemic are more likely to have been low-paid or unemployed.

“While for many young people living with parents may be a temporary situation – and may enable them to save for their future – there is a danger that they can become trapped at home due to high rents and limited job opportunities.

“The Government should pay careful attention to this trend, and foster an economic environment where young people are able to take up opportunities by making a choice about where they live, and with whom.”

Alex Beer, Programme Head at the Nuffield Foundation, said:

“These findings run counter to the narrative that the pandemic increased the number of young people returning to their parental home. However, this important research also highlights the longer term trend of increasing numbers of young adults, often those in more precarious financial positions, living with their parents.

“This will be an active choice for some, but it is important that policymakers focus on improving access to housing, training and job opportunities, which are crucial to raising the living standards of young people across the UK.”

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