Économie et Statistique n° 381-382 - 2005Housing
Leaving the nest: between centripetal and centrifugal forces
The way in which young people leave home has changed over the last twenty years due to massive enrolment in higher education and unemployment fluctuations. The increase in coresidence with parents from 1984 to 1996 was due mainly to the development of higher education, even though students paradoxically coresided less and less over the period. Conversely, coresidence decreased with the drop in unemployment from 1996 to 2002. Even though the rate of coresidence for working children increased slightly over the 1984-2002 period, the fact that a child earns a living logically always sounds the signal to leave home. However, there is still little known about how parental income influences young adults' decisions to leave home. Some authors find a slightly positive effect compatible with the hypothesis of «altruistic» parents helping their child to leave home, while others find a negative effect that they interpret as a sign that the parents wish to keep their child at home. Altruism would actually appear to be expressed by a number of channels. Either higher parental income increases independent children's consumption and hence encourages their departure, or higher parental income increases more the consumption of children when they live at home and encourages them to stay. Moreover, greater comfort at home, i.e. a transfer «in kind» in the form of housing, is an obvious encouragement to stay. The characteristics of the parents' housing should therefore be taken into account to avoid a bias in findings.