, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 257-276,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 02 Nov 2013

Gender, Turning Points, and Boomerangs: Returning Home in Young Adulthood in Great Britain

Abstract

The idea of a generation of young adults “boomeranging” back to the parental home has gained widespread currency in the British popular press. However, there is little empirical research identifying either increasing rates of returning home or the factors associated with this trend. This article addresses this gap in the literature using data from a long-running household panel survey to examine the occurrence and determinants of returning to the parental home. We take advantage of the longitudinal design of the British Household Panel Survey (1991–2008) and situate returning home in the context of other life-course transitions. We demonstrate how turning points in an individual’s life course—such as leaving full-time education, unemployment, or partnership dissolution—are key determinants of returning home. An increasingly unpredictable labor market means that employment cannot be taken for granted following university graduation, and returning home upon completion of higher education is becoming normative. We also find that gender moderates the relationship among partnership dissolution, parenthood, and returning to the parental home, reflecting the differential welfare support in Great Britain for single parents compared with nonresident fathers and childless young adults.