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When you’re young - journeying into adulthood

Published: Wednesday, 20th March 2019

An Office of National Statistics article, Milestones - Journeying into Adulthood, has highlighted how the ages at which young people experience key life changes have changed over the years.

An Office of National Statistics article, Milestones - Journeying into Adulthood, has highlighted how the ages at which young people experience key life changes, such as starting full-time work, buying a home and starting a family, have changed over the years. WMiC takes a look at a few of them.

Getting a job

Given the increase in the age at which young people are expected to stay in education and the growth in higher education, it’s not surprising that between 1998 and 2018, the employment rates for 16-17 year olds and 18-24 year olds had fallen. Interestingly, it seems that women on average stay in full-time education around half a year more than men, largely because a greater proportion of women go to university. Indeed, while the number of men applying for university has increased by 66% since 1994, it has more than doubled for women. All in all, this means that it is not until the age of 19 when more than 50% of people are in full time employment.

Moving out/moving in

In 2017, the the first age at which more than 50% of young people had moved out of their parental home was 23, an increase of two years compared to twenty years ago. It is not until the age of 27 when more than 50% had moved in with a partner, a figure that according to the ONS, has not changed much over the last couple of decades.

For 18-34 year olds, it seems that living with their parents is the most common arrangement compared to living as a couple with no children, a couple with one child or more, alone, as a lone parent or with other unrelated adults. This was not the case in 1997, when living as a couple with one or more children was most common arrangement for this age group.

Having a baby

The age at which women have their first child has been increasing for more than 40 years, so that the age for a first time mother in 2016 was 29, two years older than in 1997. Although it isn’t possible to produce figures for first time fathers, the ONS do say that the average age of all fathers in England and Wales is around three years higher than for all mothers.

Marriage

The ONS report notes how many people used to see marriage as a precursor to having children, however, this is certainly not the case today, with people in their 20s currently more likely to have children than be married. Between 1997 and 2015 the average age for a first marriage increased from 30 to 33 years old for men and from 27 to 31 for women.

Owning a home

The age at which people buy their first home has increased dramatically over the past 20 years. Back in 1997, more than 50% of people owned their home at the age of 26, the youngest age at which this has occurred. The most recent figures, however, show that it isn’t until the age of 34 that more than 50% of people are home owners.


Following on from this, the ONS also plans to look at further milestones which people may experience in later adulthood, these might include looking at the ages when people become financially independent, pay off their mortgage or start to think about retirement.


ONS - Milestones: journeying into adulthood, February 2019

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