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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 April 2007, 11:20 GMT 12:20 UK
Why do men live at home longer?
The Magazine answers...

Young man
Don't worry, I'II be back...
People are living at home longer, says a new report. But men are 50% more likely than women to be living with mum and dad between the ages of 20 to 24 - why?

Home-cooked meals, clean clothes and a fully-stocked fridge.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out the benefits for most people of living with their parents. There's even a term for those who do - Kippers (Kids In Parents' Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings).

More and more young adults are refusing to fly the nest, according to the latest Social Trends report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Home comforts aside, it's not hard to see another reason why - money.

According to the report first-time buyers faced a 204% hike in average house prices over the decade to 2005. Over the same period, their average incomes rose by just 92%.

Changing roles for the sexes and money
But while four in 10 women in England aged 20 to 24 still live with their parents, the figure rises to six in 10 when it comes to men.

Surely it can't all come down to money, can it? No, changing roles and new opportunities are really at the root of the issue, say experts.

Sexual stereotypes still exist and girls grow up being taught the skills for survival on their own from an early age, says agony aunt and relationship counsellor, Susan Quilliam. Things like cooking.

They are also socially more competent and tend to have more friends with whom they could share a flat. If they decide to go it alone, their larger network of chums also makes the move a lot less daunting. But another important factor is freedom.


"Women have much more of an identity around independence than men," says Ms Quilliam. "They actively seek a period of freedom, of not being in a family setting because of the responsibilities they are likely to have in later life. They want time on their own."

But the blurring of the traditional gender roles is also significant.

"Young adults have to learn the rules of the game, how to negotiate relationships and build their own worlds," says Frank Furedi, a sociologist and author of Paranoid Parenting.

Couple kissing
Attitudes to sex play a part

"Those rules used to be fairly straightforward but have become confused. This lack of clarity has had a greater impact on young men, they are more disorientated by the changes. The issue used to be about the independent young man going out and conquering the world, but that has now taken a bit of a battering.

"Young men are also a few years behind young women when it comes to things like sexual attitude and being open to new opportunities. On the whole women want to get out there and be independent at an earlier age."

That the experience of living at home can differ for men and women also plays a part. Young men get looked after while young women are often roped into helping look after the rest of the family, says clinical psychologist Dorothy Rowe.


The trend of women leaving home at a younger age is nothing new, says Gill Jones, author of Leaving Home. But years ago it was to get married and nowadays it is more likely to be about continuing their education.

She says class also has something to do with it, with working-class men most likely to leave home the latest.

A regular feature in the BBC News Magazine - aiming to answer some of the questions behind the headlines

"The people who leave home last are, and have always been, working-class men," she says. "In the past people would leave the parental home and go into the marital home.

"That persists today more among young men of a working-class background. They go from being cared for by their mothers to being cared for by their wives."

But while men who still live at home do get a bad press, experts say the financial aspect of the situation means there is not so much of a stigma nowadays.

Young men no longer face being ridiculed as "mummy's boys" - well, not so much.

Below is a selection of your comments.

I have 'boomerang' children. They left, came back, left again, came back again, and finally they left in their late 20s. And now I have a grand-daughter to bring up and I bet you a pound to a penny that she'll do exactly the same.
Jill, Aldershot

I am living at home with my Mum but I am by no means a "mummy's boy". I was living away from home for nearly 2 years but have come back to my home town and it is purely a financial reason why I am there. I have my independence and want to move out as soon as I can and I can cook. I don't think almost every guy should be labelled.
Paul, Scarborough

I am a relatively young professional (29) and female, and although I take the comments from the article on board, do you not think that it also has to do with the generation change and the social attitudes these days? Basically a lot of parent / child relationships these days are on more of a 'friendship' level with a mutual respect, rather than a parent / child relationship which forces them apart and installs the want / need to leave from an earlier age?
Kirsty Absalom, Manchester

I know people in their thirties who still live 'at home' and I think it's pathetic. It's their parents fault for not equipping them with the life skills required to cope on their own. You can't blame house prices as there are loads of flats or rented shared houses available. Don't they want some privacy and personal space? Get a life and a place of your own!
David, Nottingham

I am a young man, (24 to be exact), and I have lived alone whilst at university, and now I am back living with my parents. I do miss living alone because of the freedom you get, but it was a necessary thing to do simply because I do not earn enough now to afford a mortgage in my home town. However, by living with my parents for a few years, as enabled me to save money to clear my student debt, and start saving to get that mortgage. My parents taught me to cook, do the washing, ironing, and cleaning. I enjoy doing most of these jobs, especially cooking for my parents. Most of my friends, all prefer to have a mortgage, as they see it as a future investment, which is how I see it, not only as a way to living in my own space. But with the cost of buying a flat or house rising quicker than earnings, more young people are forced to live with their parents longer because they simply cannot afford to get onto the property ladder on their own.
Mark Day, Reading, England

Simple answer, too many soft parents. I've been living away from home since I left for Uni at 18. I'm now 27 I still have friends who live at home. Recently a group of us went away for a holiday, and one of them asked me how to iron a shirt as he'd never done it before! Never ironed a shirt at 27, ridiculous!
Bob Berry, Ipswich

With rising house prices it is inevitable that young people will take longer to leave home. My partner went back home after university to save up a deposit while I rented and tried to save too. Had we both rented we wouldn't have been able to buy our home.
Louise, Birmingham

I think than most men 'can't' leave home rather than 'don't' leave home due to rising house prices and taking advantage of unsecured borrowing in their early years. Myself, I am unable to move out purely because I got myself in to debt between 18-24 and I am having to pay it off before I can ever think about buying my own home I so desperately want. Lots of my friends the same age as me are in a similar situation, making the big mistake of unsecured borrowing whilst young and free. I think the age gap of men living at home is greater than 20-24. More like 20-30. I am 26 years old and it's going to take me another 3 and a half years to finish paying my debt and to have saved a significant deposit for my first home. Whilst the offers to take out the latest borrowings of 6 times my annual salary for a home seem tempting, I'd rather save a big deposit for lower monthly repayments then have the constant worry about owing a huge debt with high monthly repayments tied in with rising interest rates.
Bradley, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England

I left home at 18 to goto uni and never looked back, I'm now 24 and living life my way and its great! I'm probably lucky in that I had a very liberal mum who was happy for me to make my own way and not try to control it, I think more people need to get out and live their own lives!
John, Colchester

It's very simple in my case. I don't earn much and housing and living costs are huge. It's simply un-affordable to move out. Also, my parents don't have much money and they need me almost as much as I need them to pay the bills.
Nick, Bristol

You can give as many reasons as you want but I think it all boils down to house prices. If houses started from 5,000 instead of 100,000 no young people would be living with their parents.
Anon, newcastle

I hate to generalise about the above, but I wonder if, in part, this should be viewed in line with the fact that a quarter of all children live with single parents and that 9 out of 10 single parents are single mothers. Women getting pregnant at a young age and as single mothers will be able to get a council house. Men do not have that luxury. I am not in any way saying that it is an easy life, but this statistic should be taken into account as to why women move out earlier. If we could all get a council house cheaply, then we'd all be doing it.
Simon Monger, Mansfield

I'm 30 on over 100k PA and still live with mater and pater, why? I resent the ridiculous price of houses at the moment, add to this free exquisitely cooked food, clothes pressed to Sgt Major standards and an unending supply of cups of tea, no wonder I don't want to spread my proverbial wings!
Rob, Maidstone

at home longer because it is still quite common for men to have relationships with women slightly younger than themselves. Therefore women tend to meet men who are further along the career ladder and have the money to move out. Also a lot of people wont move out on their own but when they meet a partner which also tends to be later for men?
Dan, Guildford, UK

I am 23, and still living at home and money is the ONLY reason why. The home comforts you listed are very quickly cancelled out by the lack of freedom living with parents brings, and are in no way a reason to stay put. It is a question of freedom versus money, and in the current market, I simply cannot afford that freedom.
Ian S, Preston

I always find it amusing how when these 'psychological profiles' are constructed by women, they are nearly always patronising towards men, drawing a picture saying men are inferior in nearly every aspect of personal development than their female counterparts.
Rich, Southend, UK

Independence is something which needs to be taught to everyone, regardless of their gender, from an early age. I think everyone should live on their own, or at least look after themselves, at some point in their young lives. After 11 years together, and 8 years of marriage, I'm separating from my husband. Mainly because he just won't do things for himself, no matter how hard I try to encourage him. Not just housework, but socially and financially too. And I'm fed up baby-sitting him. He came from a mother who did everything for him, and moved straight in with me. Marriage is supposed to be a partnership, but how can it be when people aren't taught how to look after themselves? Independence teaches you this. I agree it's not always financially possible to leave home and live on your own, but everyone should be encouraged to at least flat-share for a few years.
Alex, Glasgow, Scotland

I don't care if this is sexist , there are more young women in relationships cohabiting (compared to young men) at a younger age and therefore not living with parents.That doesnt take rocket science either!
bruce v fox, bournemouth, dorset

My brother lived at home for years because he was treated like a little prince! I have wondered if some women assume their sons are less domestically capable than their daughters (who they see as being more like themselves).
Claire, London

Following completion of my degree many of my friends moved back to live with their parents whilst my partner and I chose to live together in our own rented place. It is not hard to see the incentive to do this as many of them do not pay any rent to their parents and so are about 350 a month better off than my partner or myself. If this money then goes to paying off student loans (quite happily building up interest for myself and my partner) they will be significantly more financially stable in 3-4 years than we could ever hope to be.
Toby, Southamton

I'm over 30 & live at home. I'm not so dumb that I don't know how to cook & clean. I've left home before & chosen to go back. I have a life thank you very much and all the privacy I need. Why waste money on rent when I don't need to?
Ruby Sparkles, London

'Home-cooked meals, clean clothes and a fully-stocked fridge.'...and the crazy house prices too. I think you're spot-on mate!
Tomo, Liverpool

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