Family structure and leaving home: why do young adults from non-intact families leave earlier?

Lonneke van den Berg, University of Amsterdam
Matthijs Kalmijn, University of Amsterdam
Thomas Leopold, University of Amsterdam

Young adults from non-intact families leave home earlier than young adults from intact families. This is concerning because it relates to poor outcomes in later life, such as lower educational attainment and poverty. This research offers one of the first studies to examine why young adults from non-intact families are more likely to leave home early, before age 21. We draw on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) to examine the role of push factors out of the parental home - parental economic resources, parental social resources and community resources – and pull factors towards independent living – having a partner and no longer be enrolled in education. In line with the feathered nest hypothesis, we argue that resources in the parental home “feather” the home and lead to a longer stay in the parental home. We use discrete-time event history models that combine comprehensive information from a youth questionnaire answered at panel entry (age 17) with prospective dynamic longitudinal data from subsequent panel waves. Our analyses show that the effect of being from a non-intact family is mediated both by push and pull factors. KHB analyses show that for stepfamilies having a partner functioned as an important mediator, whereas for single mother families economic resources mainly mediate the effect on early home-leaving. Key words: Early home-leaving, feathered-nest hypothesis, family structure.

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 Presented in Session 78. Family structure