News / Vancouver

Young adults living with parents on the rise – culture and economics at play say experts

Men and people from immigrant families more likely to live with their parents, according to census data released Wednesday

More adult children are living with their parents than ever before, according to 2016 census data.

Jennifer Gauthier / For Metro

More adult children are living with their parents than ever before, according to 2016 census data.

More young adults are living with their parents than ever before and that is especially true in large cities like Vancouver, where economic realities and cultural values play a big role, according to experts.

In Metro Vancouver, almost one in four (39 per cent) people aged 20 to 34 live with their parents, according to census data released Wednesday. The national average is 35 per cent.

Living with parents into adulthood is a national trend that has been growing for decades, according to a Statistics Canada report. In Vancouver, where housing prices are outpacing income, the economic benefits of staying at home longer are clear.

“It’s hard to get your foot in the door in many cases, in terms of finding a place to live outside of home,” said Nathanael Lauster, a UBC demographer who specializes in housing and families.

But while it can be expensive to live on your own as a young adult, more women are doing it than men, according to census data. Wednesday’s report states that young adult men are 25 per cent more likely to live with their parents than women.

“That points to a clear economic story,” said Marina Adshade, an economics and public policy professor who teaches at both UBC and SFU.

“Young women are going into university at much higher rates now. Both Vancouver universities – SFU and UBC – have more women than men in them. I think that’s what drives the gender difference.”

But whether living with parents is frowned upon depends a lot on culture and Vancouver’s high immigration rates can partly explain the higher number of young adults living with their parents, said Lauster.

Adult children in South Asian and East-Asian communities are often allowed to, or in some cases, expected to, live with their parents until marriage, he pointed out.    

“The two [cultures] have real support for children staying at home that is different and distinct in terms of how they’re able to explain staying at home to their peers – and whether that is seen as a success or a failure.”

Historically, Canadians would expect to spend some of their time living alone before settling down, he explained.

Statistics Canada mentions this in its own report as well, citing analysis of 2006 and 2011 data that suggest first and second generation immigrants are more likely to live with parents than their third generation counterparts.

The report says high immigration rates and high-cost of living in some parts of country could also explain the rapid increase (38 per cent) in the number of grandparents living with their children and grandchildren.

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