Leaving home: independence, togetherness and income

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

December 4, 2010


This paper examines the factors influencing young people's decision to leave the parental home, focusing on the role of income: the young person's own income, and the income of his or her parents. It takes a comparative perspective, comparing countries across the pre-enlargement European Union. In all groups of countries, the young person's own income is positively associated with the probability of leaving home. However, the effects of parental income are more complex. Everywhere, higher parental income is associated with a lower likelihood of leaving home to live with a partner at young ages, and a greater likelihood at older ages. But whereas in Nordic countries, higher parental incomes accelerate home-leaving to partnership at all ages after the late teens, this effect is not seen until a much later age in Southern Europe, and not until after age 35 for Southern European men. This is consistent with existing theory about cross-country differences in the nature of family ties, suggesting that parents preferences for independence versus family closeness differ between countries, and contribute (together with differences in young people's socio-economic situations) to the widely differing patterns of living arrangements observed across Europe.

Published in

Advances in Life Course Research

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 15 , p.147 -160





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