Making the Choice to Leave the Parental Home Among European Young Adults
Katrin Schwanitz, University of Groningen
Yet, quantitative modeling of leaving home behavior or residential trajectories can tell us little about how young adults make the decision to leave the parental home or how young adults’ characteristics, contextual constraints, and decision-making processes intersect to shape pathways out of the parental home in Europe. It is important to note that leaving the parental home has different meanings and implications (vis-a-vis its link with partnership and family formation, for example) (Sobotka and Toulemon 2008), refers to different time frames and age deadlines (Aassve, Arpino, and Billari 2013), and also ranks differently in significance as a marker of adulthood (Spéder, Murinkó, and Settersten 2013) across European countries. If views on leaving home vary across European countries, how leaving home decisions are taken in different European countries may also very well differ.
In this article, I use data from the Generations and Gender Survey (GGS) for 14 European countries to map beliefs and influences on leaving home intentions according to a framework provided by the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB, Ajzen 1991). The GGS is a rich data set which collects information on demographic choices with the following two unique strengths: they are prospective (asked about the next three years) and they provide measures of proximate determinants of leaving home (Vikat et al. 2007), which allows analyzing the decision-making process of young adults. My research objective is to provide the first comparative and systematic examination of young adults’ decision-making process of leaving home, paying particular attention to the link between young adults’ beliefs about leaving the parental home and contextual conditions prevailing in different European countries.
The data for this study come from the first Wave of the Generations and Gender Survey (GGS, 2002–2013; http://www.ggp-i.org/), an internationally comparable and harmonized set of survey data for 19 countries with about 10,000 individuals aged from 18 to 79 years of the non-institutionalized and resident population per participating country (see for a general overview: Vikat et al. 2007). A key advantage of the GGS is that it surveys life course decision-making processes by collecting information on respondents’ intentions about a series of key demographic choices (e.g. leaving the parental home, getting partnered, or having children) and that it includes TPB item variables. This allows framing the decision to leave the parental home as an intention, which in turn is a function of attitudes, perceived social or normative influences to leave (or not leave) the parental home, and perceived control over factors associated with leaving home. From the GGS I selected respondents from 14 European countries who were aged between 18 and 34 and still lived with at least one parent at Wave 1 (n = 16,736). Although a standard questionnaire exists for the GGS, certain questions of the TPB framework were skipped altogether or certain items were omitted in some countries. These countries are included in the analysis when appropriate.
Presented in Session 1131: Life Course