Should i stay or should i go? The impact of age norms on leaving home

Abstract

This article studies the association between social norms and the timing of leaving home. Although largely overlooked by most recent studies on leaving home, life-course theory suggests that age norms and age grading influence life-course decisions in general and leaving home in particular. We use Fishbein and Ajzen’s model of “reasoned behavior” to integrate this strand of research with the more individualistic view that dominates current thinking. Using data from a Dutch panel survey, we use a Cox regression model with a control for sample selection to estimate the association between perceived age norms and the timing of leaving home. We show that perceived opinions of parents are associated with the actual timing of leaving the parental home but that societal norms and friends’ norms concerning the timing of leaving home are not. In addition, the timing of leaving home is also associated with the perceived costs and benefits of leaving home and with the perceived housing market situation.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Aassve, A., F.C. Billari, S. Mazzuco, and F. Ongaro. 2002. “Leaving Home: A Comparative Analysis of ECHP Data.” Journal of European Social Policy 12:259–75.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Ajzen, I. 1988. Attitudes, Personality and Behavior. Milton-Keynes, England: Open University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  3. — 1991. “The Theory of Planned Behavior.” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 50:179–211.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Ambrose, B.W., C.A. Capone, and Y. Deng. 2001. “Optimal Put Exercise: An Empirical Examination of Conditions for Mortgage Foreclosure.” Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics 23:213–34.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Avery, R., F.K. Goldscheider, and A. Speare. 1992. “Feathered Nest/Gilded Cage: Parental Income and Leaving Home in the Transition to Adulthood.” Demography 29:375–88.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Axinn, W.H. and A. Thornton. 1992. “The Influence of Parental Resources on the Timing of the Transition to Marriage.” Social Science Research 21:261–85.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Baanders, A.N. 1998. “Leavers, Planners and Dwellers. The Decision to Leave the Parental Home.” Ph.D. dissertation. Department of Economics and Management, Wageningen Agricultural University.

  8. Barber, J. 2000. “Intergenerational Influences on the Entry Into Parenthood: Mothers’ Preferences for Family and Nonfamily Behavior.” Social Forces 79:319–48.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Bernardi, L. 2003. “Channels of Social Influence on Reproduction.” Population Research and Policy Review 22:427–38.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Billari, F.C., D. Philipov, and P. Baizán. 2001. “Leaving Home in Europe. The Experience of Cohorts Born Around 1960.” International Journal of Population Geography 7:339–56.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Bongaarts, J. and S.C. Watkins. 1996. “Social Interactions and Contemporary Fertility Transitions.” Population and Development Review 22:639–82.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Buchmann, M. 1989. The Script of Life in Modern Society. Entry Into Adulthood in a Changing World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Cox, D.R. 1972. “Regression Models and Life Tables.” Journal of the Royal Statistical Society B 34:187–200.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Crook, N.R. 1978. “On Social Norms and Fertility Decline.” Journal of Development Studies 14:198–210.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. De Jong Gierveld, J., A.C. Liefbroer, and E. Beekink. 1991. “The Effect of Parental Resources on Patterns of Leaving Home Among Young Adults in the Netherlands.” European Sociological Review 7:55–71.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Efron, B. and R. Tibshirani. 1993. An Introduction to the Bootstrap. New York: Chapmann and Hall.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Ermisch, J. and P. Di Salvo. 1997. “The Economic Determinants of Young People’s Household Formation.” Economica 64:627–44.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Fischer, C.S. 1995. “The Subcultural Theory of Urbanism: A Twentieth-Year Assessment.” American Journal of Sociology 101:543–77.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Fishbein, M. and I. Ajzen. 1975. Belief, Attitude, Intention and Behavior: An Introduction to Theory and Research. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Furstenberg, F.F., Jr., S. Kennedy, V.C. McCloyd, R.G. Rumbaut, and R.A. Settersten, Jr. 2004. “Growing Up Is Harder to Do.” Contexts 3:33–41.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Giele, J.Z. and G.H. Elder, Jr. 1998. Methods of Life Course Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Goldscheider, F.K. and J. DaVanzo. 1989. “Pathways to Independent Living in Early Adulthood: Marriage, Semiautonomy, and Premarital Residential Independence.” Demography 26:597–614.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Goldscheider, F.K. and C. Goldscheider. 1989. “Family Structure and Con ict: Nest-Leaving Expectations of Young Adults and Their Parents.” Journal of Marriage and the Family 51:87–97.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. — 1993. Leaving Home Before Marriage. Ethnicity, Familism and Generational Relationships. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.

    Google Scholar 

  25. — 1998. “The Effects of Childhood Family Structure on Leaving and Returning Home.” Journal of Marriage and the Family 60:745–56.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Hagestad, G.O. and B.L. Neugarten. 1985. “Age and the Life Course.” Pp. 35–61 in Handbook of Aging and the Social Sciences, Vol. 2, edited by R.H. Binstock and E. Shanahan. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Heckhausen, J. 1999. Developmental Regulation in Adulthood. Age-Normative and Sociostructural Constraints as Adaptive Challenges. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Heckman, J.J. 1976. “The Common Structure of Statistical Models of Truncation, Sample Selection, and Limited Dependent Variables and a Simple Estimator for Models.” Annals of Economic and Social Measurement 5:475–92.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Hill, D. and M.S. Hill. 1976. “Older Children and Splitting Off.” Pp. 117–54 in Five Thousand American Families—Patterns of Economic Progress, Vol. 4, edited by G. Duncan and J.N. Morgan. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Hogan, D.P. 1978. “The Variable Order of Events in the Life Course.” American Sociological Review 43:573–86.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Holdsworth, C. 2000. “Leaving Home in Britain and Spain.” European Sociological Review 16: 201–22.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Johnson, R.W. and J. DaVanzo. 1998. “Economic and Cultural Influences on the Decision to Leave Home in Peninsular Malaysia.” Demography 35:97–114.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Jones, G. 1995. Leaving Home. Buckingham, United Kingdom: Open University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Kohler, H.-P., J.R. Behrman, and S.C. Watkins. 2001. “The Density of Social Networks and Fertility Decisions: Evidence From South Nyanza District, Kenya.” Demography 38:43–58.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Lekkas, V., J.M. Quigley, and R. Van Order. 1993. “Loan Loss Severity and Optimal Mortgage Default.” Journal of the American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association 21:353–71.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Lesthaeghe, R. 1980. “On the Social Control of Human Reproduction.” Population and Development Review 6:527–48.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Liefbroer, A.C. and J. De Jong Gierveld. 1993. “The Impact of Rational Considerations and Perceived Opinions on Young Adults’ Union Formation Intentions.” Journal of Family Issues 14:213–35.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Liefbroer, A.C. and P.A. Dykstra. 2000. Life Courses in Flux: A Study of Developments in the Life Courses of Dutch Born Between 1900 and 1970 [in Dutch]. The Hague: Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Liefbroer, A.C. and M. Kalmijn. 1997. Panel Study of Social Integration in the Netherlands 1987–1995 (PSIN8795). Codebook. ICS Occasional Papers and Documents Series (ICS Code Books-30), Interuniversity Center for Social Science Theory and Methodology, Utrecht.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Marini, M.M. 1984. “Age and Sequencing Norms in the Transition to Adulthood.” Social Forces 63:229–44.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. — 1985. “Determinants of the Timing of Adult Role Entry.” Social Science Research 14: 309–50.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Miller, W.B. 1995. “Childbearing Motivation and Its Measurement.” Journal of Biosocial Science 27:473–87.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Miller, W.B. and D.J. Pasta. 1994. “The Psychology of Child Timing: A Measurement Instrument and a Model.” Journal of Applied Social Psychology 24:218–50.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Mitchell, B.A., A.V. Wister, and T.K. Burch. 1989. “The Family Environment and Leaving the Parental Home.” Journal of Marriage and the Family 51:605–13.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Modell, J. 1980. “Normative Aspects of American Marriage Timing Since World War II.” Journal of Family History 5:210–34.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. — 1997. “What Do Life-Course Norms Mean?” Human Development 40:282–86.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Montgomery, M.R. and J.B. Casterline. 1996. “Social Learning, Social Influence, and New Models of Fertility.” Population and Development Review 22(Suppl.):151–75.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Morgan, S.P. and R. Berkowitz King. 2001. “Why Have Children in the 21st Century? Biological Predisposition, Social Coercion, Rational Choice.” European Journal of Population 17:3–20.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Mulder, C.H. and W.A.V. Clark. 2000. “Leaving Home and Leaving the State: Evidence From the United States.” International Journal of Population Geography 6:423–37.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Mulder, C.H. and M. Wagner. 1993. “Migration and Marriage in the Life Course: A Method for Studying Synchronized Events.” European Journal of Population 9:55–76.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Murphy, M. and D. Wang. 1998. “Family and Sociodemographic Influences on Patterns of Leaving Home in Postwar Britain.” Demography 35:293–305.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Neugarten, B. 1996. The Meanings of Age: Selected Papers of Bernice L. Neugarten, edited by D.A. Neugarten. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Rindfuss, R.R., S.P. Morgan, and G. Swicegood. 1988. First Births in America: Changes in the Timing of Parenthood. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Settersten, R.A., Jr. 1998. “A Time to Leave Home and a Time Never to Return? Age Constraints Around the Living Arrangements of Young Adults.” Social Forces 76:1373–400.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. — 2003. “Age Structuring and the Rhythm of the Life Course.” Pp. 81–98 in Handbook of the Life Course, edited by J.T. Mortimer and M.J. Shanahan. New York: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  56. Settersten, R.A., Jr., and G.O. Hagestad. 1996. “What’s the Latest? Cultural Age Deadlines for Family Transitions.” The Gerontologist 36:178–88.

    Google Scholar 

  57. Settersten, R.A. and K.U. Mayer. 1997. “The Measurement of Age, Age Structuring, and the Life Course.” Annual Review of Sociology 23:233–61.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Surkyn, J. and R. Lesthaeghe. 2004. “Value Orientations and the Second Demographic Transition (SDT) in Northern, Western and Southern Europe: An Update.” Demographic Research, Special Collection 3: Article 3. Available online at http://www.demographic-research.org/special/3/3/ default.htm

  59. Teitler, J.O. 1996. The Impact of Neighborhood Norms on Youth Sexual and Fertility Behavior. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation. Department of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

    Google Scholar 

  60. Veevers, J.E., E.M. Gee, and A.V. Wister. 1996. “Homeleaving Age Norms: Conflict or Consensus?” International Journal of Aging and Human Development 43:277–95.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Youniss, J. and J. Smollar. 1985. Adolescent Relations With Mothers, Fathers, and Friends. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  62. White, J.M. 1998. “The Normative Interpretation of Life Course Event Histories.” Marriage & Family Review 27:211–35.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Whittington, L.A. and H.E. Peters. 1996. “Economic Incentives for Financial and Residential Independence.” Demography 33:82–97.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Additional information

We gratefully acknowledge support from the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute, and Università Bocconi. Financial support for the Panel Study on Social Integration of Young Adults in the Netherlands (PSIN) has been provided by the Vrije Universiteit, Utrecht University, Tilburg University, and the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute. Earlier versions of this article were presented in seminars at Oxford University; the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany; and the 2001 annual meeting of the Population Association of America. We thank Jennifer Barber, Elizabeth Thomson, and the anonymous reviewers for their constructive remarks on earlier versions of this article.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Billari, F.C., Liefbroer, A.C. Should i stay or should i go? The impact of age norms on leaving home. Demography 44, 181–198 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1353/dem.2007.0000

Download citation

Keywords

  • Young Adult
  • Housing Market
  • Behavioral Control
  • Parental Home
  • Sample Selection Bias