Who Supports Whom? Co-residence between parents and adult children

Publication type

Conference Paper


Joint Empirical Social Science Seminar


Publication date

March 22, 2006


In the literature on young people's living arrangements and family formation, the assumption is often made that when young adults continue to live with their parents, this arrangement serves to support the young person economically. However, there has been little empirical investigation into the validity of this assumption. In this paper, we examine the incomes of all members of households where a young adult co-resides with one or more parents, and develop a typology of support, identifying households where parents are supporting the young person; where the young person is supporting the parents; where there is mutual support between parents and the young person; or where no support is necessary. Using ECHP data, we are able to examine differences in patterns of support across pre-enlargement Europe. Unsurprisingly, we find that the degree of support between parents and adult children depends on the age of the young person (with the 'younger young' being more supported by parents), and on whether or not the young person has a job (with unemployed young people more likely to be supported by, and less likely to be supporting, their parents). More unexpectedly, we find that in several countries, a substantial percentage of young people are supporting their parents economically - including, in the Southern European countries, a sizeable minority who live in poor households due to their continuing co-residence with their parents, but who would most likely not be poor if they moved out of the parental home.

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