Big rise in young working adults still living at home

Census 2016 figures suggest young people are finding it harder to buy or rent property

The number of young working adults who are still living at home increased by 19 per cent between 2011 and 2016, according to data from last year’s census, in in a trend linked to the ongoing housing crisis.

Working people aged 30 to 34 and still at home saw an even larger increase of 26 per cent, rising from 23,835 in 2011 to 30,137 in 2016, despite the fact that the numbers of those living at home usually falls dramatically between the ages of 25 and 30.

The figures in Households and Families, the latest Census 2016 profile report from the Central Statistics Office, show almost 270,000 men and 190,000 women aged 18 and over were living with a parent at the time the census took place in April 2016, a 4.4 per cent increase on 2011. Of these, 215,088 were at work while 66,516 were unemployed and a further 152,269 were students.

While the rise in employed people living with their parents, from 180,703 to 215,088, is partly attributable to the economic recovery and expansion of the workforce, it also reflects difficulties faced by younger people in finding accommodation in Dublin and other urban centres.


‘Housing timebomb’

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan claimed the results laid bare an “accommodation and housing timebomb”, on top of the current housing crisis. “Due to spiralling rents and soaring house prices, moving out of home is simply out of reach for many young people,” he said.

“These young people are forgotten about in the context of the housing crisis. While living at home with parents is fine in the short term, the Government will be facing an even worse crisis if and when these young people decide to move out.”

Mr Ryan called on the Government to move its vacant and derelict site tax forward a year in order to get housing stock back into circulation and prevent land hoarding.

Labour Party housing spokesperson Jan O’Sullivan said the report showed how urgent it was for the Department of Housing to act on the basis of accurate data, “not just the number of adults living with their parents but also the ‘hidden homeless’ who are couch surfing and, as the new Minister has acknowledged, a more reliable way to measure the number of new homes being built, as counting on the basis of new ESB connections is inaccurate.”

Cohabiting couples

The report also revealed a significant increase in the number of married couples with children in rental accommodation, which rose by more than 20 per cent to 101,741 families, while the numbers in accommodation owned with or without a mortgage fell slightly. There was also a 37.6 per cent increase in the number of cohabiting couples with children in rental accommodation.

The overall number of families in the State has grown by more than 50 per cent over the period 1996 to 2016 - standing at 1,218,370 in April 2016 - while the average number of children per family has fallen markedly. However, this trend has now levelled off, with the average number of children per family in 2016 remaining at 1.38, exactly the same level as in 2011.

The figures show nearly 400,000 people in the State live alone - 204,296 were female and 195,519 male - while almost 460,000 adults live with their parents.

Of those living alone, 39.2 per cent were aged 65 and over. Of those aged 25-49 living alone, males accounted for some 60 per cent.

This was more pronounced in rural areas, where 65.9 per cent of those living alone were male. Men were also more likely to be single – 62 per cent, compared to 43.6 per cent for women, but less likely to be widowed – 12.5 per cent, compared to 36.6 per cent of women.

The number of families with children increased by 28,455 to 862,721 since 2011. A total of 62,192 families had four or more children; 4,352 had six or more, while the average number of children per family, which had been declining between 1996 and 2006, remained unchanged at 1.38 children.

The results show one-parent families are far more likely to be female. Out of a total of 218,817 one-parent families, 189,112 were female. Over half (125,840) had just one child.

The number of those married increased by 4.9 per cent to 1,792,151, with married people (including remarriages) making up 47.7 per cent of the population. By the age of 33, women were more likely to be married than to be single, while the equivalent age for men was 35.

Same-sex civil partnerships

Some 4,226 people indicated that they were in a registered same-sex civil partnership (the first time this category has been recorded on an Irish census) of which almost 60 per cent were male.

The number of separated and divorced people increased by 8.9 per cent to 222,073 from the previous census in April 2011. There were 127,149 separated or divorced women and 94,924 men. The peak age for separation and divorce was 53. One fifth of divorced or separated men lived in households with children, compared to over 50 per cent of women.

The census also showed that 61,729 people were remarried, an increase of 17.1 per cent on 2011.

Hugh Linehan

Hugh Linehan

Hugh Linehan is an Irish Times writer and Duty Editor. He also presents the weekly Inside Politics podcast