Age of young people leaving their parental household
Data extracted in August 2020
Planned article update: 12 August 2021
Leaving the parental home is considered as a milestone in the transition from childhood to adulthood. The reasons behind this step may vary: from being materially independent to studying, working, moving in with a partner, getting married and having children, etc. However, the path to independence may not be straightforward and may happen, as will be shown in this article, at different ages across countries. This difference may reflect the dissimilar challenges that young people face across Europe, as well as the variety of cultural particularities in the different countries.
This article presents data on the average age of leaving the parental home in the European Union (EU) and in the EU Member States, as well as the United Kingdom and the candidate countries Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey. Special attention is given to geographical and gender differences, as well as on the developments since 2006.
Map 1 indicates that in 2019, on average across the whole EU-27, young people left the parental home at the age of 26.2 years. This average, however, varies among the EU Member States. Croatia, Slovakia, Italy and Bulgaria recorded the oldest average ages of leaving the parental home, with all four in the category 30 years and over. By contrast, Sweden, Luxembourg, Denmark and Finland showed the youngest average ages at less than 22 years. The lowest average age of young people leaving their parental household was observed in Sweden (17.8 years) and the highest in Croatia (31.8 years). When including the non-EU countries, the highest age could be seen in Montenegro, where the estimated age of young people leaving their parental household was 33.1 years on average.
Map 1 suggests that in most northern and western countries, young people left home on average in their early twenties, while in southern and eastern states the average age when leaving home was in the late twenties or early thirties. It is worth noting that Luxembourg and Slovakia differ significantly from their neighbouring countries in this aspect.
Countries can be clustered in six groups of reached ages, based on the 2019 data. In the first group, consisting of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Luxembourg and Sweden, young people left their parental household on average below the age of 24 years in 2019. The second group, which includes Austria, Belgium, Germany, France, the Netherlands, as well as the United Kingdom, corresponds to an average age of leaving the parental home at the age of 24 or 25 years. Cyprus, Czechia, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland formed the third and the largest group (in terms of number of countries) with young people leaving their parental household on average at the age of 26 or 27. Countries with an average age when leaving the parental household at 28 or 29 years make up the fourth group; these are Greece, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Turkey. In the fifth group, including Bulgaria, Italy, Malta, Slovakia, Spain and Serbia, young people left their parents’ household on average at the age of 30 or 31. Finally, the sixth and smallest group is made up of Croatia, Montenegro and North Macedonia and corresponds to an average age of 32 years or above for people leaving their parental home.
On average, young women moved out of the parental home earlier than young men in almost all considered countries (Figure 1). This may be a sign that women are more prone to joining their partner’s household or forming a multi-generational household with their husband’s parents. The only exception in 2019 was Luxembourg where women left their parental household 0.3 years later than men.
The gender gap between the average ages of leaving the parental home was 1.9 years at EU level in 2019. It was the largest in Romania (4.6 years), Bulgaria (4.5 years), Croatia (3.7 years) and Latvia (3.3 years). However, considering also the candidate countries, the gap was larger in North Macedonia (7.6 years) and Serbia (5.3 years). By contrast, the gap was smallest in Sweden (0.4 year), Denmark (0.5 year) and Estonia (0.6 year) as well as in Luxembourg (0.3 year), the only country where women left home later than men.
A positive correlation can be observed between the average age of young people leaving their parental household and the size of the gender gap. In countries where young people leave their parental household at higher ages, the gender difference is more pronounced. This is particularly the case in Bulgaria (with an average age of 30.0 years and a gender difference of 4.5 years), North Macedonia (average: 31.8 years, gender difference: 7.6 years) and Serbia (average: 31.1 years, gender difference: 5.3 years). By contrast, in countries where young people left their parental homes at lower ages, the gender difference is generally less pronounced. Sweden, Luxembourg and Denmark, corresponding to an average age below 22 years (17.8 years, 20.1 years and 21.1 years respectively) recorded gender differences of half a year or less (0.4 year, 0.3 year and 0.5 year respectively).
Development over the years
From 2002 to 2006, the average age of young people leaving their parental household in EU-27 increased slightly from 26.5 to 26.8 years. After this period, the average age decreased slowly but steadily to 26.2 years in 2019. Consequently, it decreased by 0.6 years between 2006 and 2019 (Figure 2).
The decrease of the average age between 2006 and 2019 can be observed in half of the EU Member States for which data for 2006 is available: in 12 EU Member States the average age decreased, while it increased in 11 EU Member States and was unchanged in two EU Member States. The largest decrease among the EU Member States, in the period 2006-2019, can be found in Luxembourg (-6.1 years), followed by Estonia (-3.1 years), Lithuania (-2.8 years) and Slovenia (-2.0 years). On the other hand, the largest increase was observed in Ireland (+1.5 years), followed by Croatia (+1.3 years), Bulgaria (+1.1 years) and Slovakia (+1.0 years). In Austria and Romania, the average age remains unchanged between 2006 and 2019 (25.4 years for Austria and 28.1 years for Romania), although it varied to some extent over those years.
Source data for tables and graphs
Source: Statistics presented in this article are derived from the European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS). The EU-LFS is the largest European household sample survey providing quarterly and annual results on labour participation of people aged 15 and over. It covers residents in private households and excludes those in collective households. Conscripts in military or community service are not included in the results. The EU-LFS is based on the same target populations and uses the same definitions in all countries, which means that the results are comparable between the countries.
Reference period: Yearly results are obtained as averages of the four quarters in the year.
Coverage: The results from the EU-LFS currently cover all European Union Member States, the United Kingdom, the EFTA Member States of Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, as well as the candidate countries Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey. For Cyprus, the survey covers only the areas of Cyprus controlled by the Government of the Republic of Cyprus. However, EU-LFS household data are not available for Iceland, Norway, Switzerland. This is the reason why statistics are not available in this article for these three countries.
Country codes: Belgium (BE), Bulgaria (BG), Czechia (CZ), Denmark (DK), Germany (DE), Estonia (EE), Ireland (IE), Greece (EL), Spain (ES), France (FR), Croatia (HR), Italy (IT), Cyprus (CY), Latvia (LV), Lithuania (LT), Luxembourg (LU), Hungary (HU), Malta (MT), the Netherlands (NL), Austria (AT), Poland (PL), Portugal (PT), Romania (RO), Slovenia (SI), Slovakia (SK), Finland (FI), Sweden (SE), the United Kingdom (UK), Iceland (IS), Norway (NO), Switzerland (CH), Montenegro (ME), North Macedonia (MK), Serbia (RS) and Turkey (TR).
European aggregates: EU refers to the sum of EU-27 Member States. If data are unavailable for a country, the calculation of the corresponding aggregates takes into account the data for the same country for the most recent period available. Such cases are indicated.
Detailed technical and methodological information on the EU-LFS can be found in five articles linked to the overview page EU labour force survey.
The average age at which young people leave home is an approximate measure based on whether or not respondents and their parents live in the same household. A calculation is made for each single year of age in the range from 15 to 34. In the calculation, the share of respondents living in households without their parents among the total population (separately for males and females) is taken into consideration. A so-called ‘exit probability’ for each single year of age in the range from 15 to 34 is calculated for the total, male and female populations. The exit probability equals the above-mentioned share minus the corresponding share for the preceding age (e.g. the share for the 16 year-old people minus the share for 15 year-old people). As 15 years is the starting point, its exit probability equals the share of people aged 15 years living without their parents of the total population aged 15 years. The calculation is made successively up to the age of 34.
In addition to the Labour Force Survey (LFS), the EU-Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) is also a source of household statistics. The EU-SILC is a multi-purpose instrument which focuses mainly on income. However, information on housing conditions, social exclusion, labour and education is also collected.
- Statistics Explained articles on Youth
- Youth population (yth_demo)
- Child and youth population on 1 January by sex and age (yth_demo_010)
- Ratio of young people in the total population on 1 January by sex and age (yth_demo_020)
- Estimated average age of young people leaving the parental household by sex (yth_demo_030)
- Share of young adults aged 18-34 living with their parents by age and sex - EU-SILC survey (ilc_lvps08)
- Youth population on 1 January by sex, age and country of birth (yth_demo_060)
- Young immigrants by sex, age and country of birth (yth_demo_070)
- Young emigrants by sex, age and country of birth (yth_demo_080)
- Youth population (yth_demo)