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Young people are remaining in the parental home for longer, and returning there more often, before attaining residential independence. In Australia, these patterns have prompted concerns about a ‘boomerang generation’ whose housing aspirations and decisions have either been directly questioned, or viewed as symptomatic of broader affordability issues. Employing a longitudinal perspective, we argue that early residential pathways reflect a mix of stable and dynamic influences involving individuals, their families, and their broader relationships. Using data from a large cohort (n = 2082) of young Australians participating in the ‘Our Lives’ research project, we examine housing pathway formation between the ages of 12/13 and 21/22. Events such as parental union dissolution or partnership formation were found to encourage home leaving, whilst being employed at a younger age and having grown up rurally predicted both leaving and remaining out of home. Close, supportive relationships with family and friends served to ‘anchor’ respondents at home for longer, and parental socioeconomic resources enabled respondents to leave home and return if needed. The findings suggest that early residential independence reflects various factors, not all of which are in young people’s control, and some of which may hinder the longer term sustainability of their living arrangements.


School of Arts

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Journal Article

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