Housing pressures see ‘dramatic increase’ in young adults living with parents

Nearly a million more young adults now live with their parents than two decades ago as housing pressures bite, according to analysis from a think tank.

Between 1998 and 2017, the proportion of 20 to 34-year-olds in the UK living in the parental home increased from around 2.4 million, or 19.48% of that age group, to around 3.4 million, or 25.91%, Civitas said.

The cross-party think tank said the “dramatic increase” in the number of young adults failing to fly the nest points to housing affordability issues.

A previous report from Lloyds Bank found the average house across UK cities in 2018 equated to 7.2 times average annual earnings, making the cost of buying a home the least affordable since 2007.

There has also been a “collapse in single living” among those who do move out, with younger adults having become less likely to be living on their own, the Civitas report, which used Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures, argued.

Among 25 to 44-year-olds, the number of people living alone in the UK has fallen from 1.8 million in 2002 to 1.3 million in 2017, Civitas said, as many of those moving out share the costs of running a home with friends or a partner.

It said these changes, which appear to be driven by housing pressures, help explain why average household sizes, which had been falling for most of the 20th century, plateaued in the 2000s and have even started rising in some places.

The proportion of “single-person” households has plateaued at about 30%, in contrast to some other parts of Europe where single living has been increasing – to more than 35% of all households in France and the Netherlands and more than 40% in Germany and Denmark, Civitas said.

Daniel Bentley, editorial director at Civitas, said: “An important consequence of the housing crisis that has gone largely unnoticed has been depressed household formation.

“As owner-occupation and social housing have each become more difficult to enter, hundreds of thousands of young adults have taken one look at the high rents in the private rented sector and decided to stay with their parents a bit longer instead.

“And those who have moved out have been much more inclined than in the 1990s to share, either with a partner or others.”

Mr Bentley said that in forecasting future housing needs, household formation patterns during this period should not be used as a guide, “because they reflect to a significant extent the outcomes of a dysfunctional housing market”.

He continued: “Building new homes in line with household growth during this period would entrench the under-supply of housing for decades to come.”

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