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Has NZ hit this milestone too?

Written By: - Date published: 8:32 am, June 6th, 2016 - 30 comments
Categories: families, housing, quality of life - Tags: , , ,

A very depressing statistic from America:

More Young Adults Now Live With Parents Than Partners

It’s the first time that this has happened in the U.S. in more than 130 years.

In 2014, Americans 18 to 34 years old were a little bit likelier to be living in their parents’ home than with a spouse or partner in their own household, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, released on Tuesday. It’s the first time that has happened in the modern era.

Of 18 to 34 year olds, 31.6% are living with partners, 32.1% with parents.

That’s quite a milestone, with far reaching social implications, especially if the trend continues. Now that housing is out of reach in NZ we are moving in the same direction. How long before we pass the same milestone – or have we done so already?

30 comments on “Has NZ hit this milestone too?”

  1. Jenny 1

    A young New Zealand couple go to a marriage guidance counsellor because they are always arguing over money.

    The counsellor suggesta that they go and live with their parents, just for a little while until their finances improve.

    The young couple tell the counsellor that they can’t do that.

    When the counsellor asks, “Why?”

    The young couple reply, “Because they are still living with their parents.”

  2. weka 2

    I don’t see this as a problem. Humans for pretty much all of their history have lived in communal family groups. The nuclear family is a consequence of fossil fuels which have given use a few short centuries of exaggerated wealth that we can no longer sustain.

    In a world of Peak Resource, where we have houses that are much bigger than we need, it makes sense to have more people living in them again. And if this means people in the US and NZ have less kids, that’s good for the planet too.

    This doesn’t mean we all have to live with our parents (that would require a cultural shift we probably can’t attain 😉 ) but it is a great opportunity to rethink resource sharing, land sharing, how to work together and maximise resources in sustainable way. One thing I’d love to see Gen Yers do is instead of scrabbling to get on the tail end of the property boom, to get on with creating the new structures of how people can own land/homes together to create security that isn’t just about financial investment.

    • Molly 2.1

      I attended a couple of Auckland Unitary Plan workshops, and sat with some of the planning team and suggested multi-generational households should be allowed to build structures that accommodated them better.

      This was with regard to the living styles of Maaori and Pasifika families that do this despite the bad fit of the current housing stock, but could equally apply to other cultures that have made NZ their home, and/or other NZers that see this as an option. The response was muted, something along the lines of too hard, and we don’t need it. Although this was three to four years ago, my reply was that – we already have families living like this, and some of them reside in uninsulated garages or sleepouts because the cost of permits and consents, and the fear of being in breach stops any improvements being done.

      Later on was briefly gratified to see some mention of multi-family units, but reading on found that it was more an attached granny flat – which allows for renting – but does not really design for shared living spaces alongside private.

      (If I had the funds, I would extend our current two bedroom into the size of one of the ugly mansions that we have locally, and do this myself.)

      • weka 2.1.1

        Nice one Molly!

        Did they say why it would be too hard? Is that regulatory issues like building consents, or is it challenge of shifting culture?

        • Molly 2.1.1.1

          To be honest, there are a number of reasons why I consider their first response was so dismissive (purely speculative though):
          1. Their personal circumstances and work contacts makes this a lifestyle that they have no experience of. They work with “aspirational” ideas, where people aim towards a singular family household – with upgrades as they can be afforded.
          2. The political influence of developers, and regular submitters cannot be underestimated. Many of the councillors and representatives are right wing, especially those who are interested in housing “development”, the echo chamber of influence is loud and influential. This limits perspective and alternatives.
          3. When the conversation is always about financial costs of housing, and affordability is linked to the developers ability to sell such housing units – then we miss the whole cohort of people who want to buy, rent and live in communities, and who invest in their house improvements to provide for people, not install new gadgets or change the palette to a more fashionable colour.

          NZers have been shown a clear path to prosperity by use of taxation, policy, immigration policy (that allows immigrants to purchase their way into residency through residential “investment”), and as other options have receded to the point of vanishing – this remains a primary method to future prosperity. We cannot put all the blame on those who choose it, they have done so with much encouragement from our political decisions and our media.

          But a national conversation should be had about how the provision of safe, healthy, truly affordable housing should be a multi-partisan goal. Implementation of this would see more state-housing being built, less transience, more innovative housing models being built by “developers” who are living there.

      • RedLogix 2.1.2

        @ Molly

        Back when I was building units about ten years ago I looked hard at this. I could see multi-generational living would be a real future trend.

        Sadly the council planning rules more or less made it impossible.

        • Molly 2.1.2.1

          RedLogix,

          You are truly a forward-thinker! I would have bought into one of those.

          IIRC, the waste in our building and renovation industry is quite high. I remember reading once that the average lifespan of a NZ house was 35 years, before it was either removed or demolished.

          When I was younger and more “ashpurational” – I really enjoyed watching home renovation shows, and remodels. Now I can only see functional kitchens being thrown out to stay in fashion, and such waste in both the demolition and the renovations. Because we don’t pay what the waste really costs us, we show such disregard for natural resources and the cost of the processes that bring us finished goods and materials.

          Now, my aspirations are for a place to call home that can accommodate family and friends that need somewhere to stay. Children that don’t aim to accumulate one of everything they think they want, but who know how to share resources and what they have so that everyone has access to everything they need.

          In this time of climate change, and inequality, my thoughts are that any solutions we come up with has to be done with those considerations as priorities. (In my personal life, we have a modest renovation budget that we can access, I’m struck by how easy it is to bling up our house, but how difficult it will be to add to it to share with others.)

        • Molly 2.1.2.2

          Just remembered a project I did a few years back as a home ed project – the children and I designed a series of houses (using 3D modelling) that started as modest two bedroom homes on 50m2, that could be added to as a family grew to a 5 bdrm house, and then have sections closed off to provide for a young couple or a granny flat and/or bedsits.

          Our design principles were solar exposure for all living spaces, close proximity of all services to reduce costs, and private spaces for each group.

          We were only playing, but can be done. My parents could afford the largest house they have ever owned, once all the children had moved out and they had retired. But they were happiest in the my sister’s 50m2 bach where they lived while this was being built. Very little housework and maintenance, and there life was spent in walking, meeting other locals and getting together with friends and family.

          If an option existed to stay in the same location, but occupy a more limited amount of space, then it would be a benefit for many of our older population and for those family members who take responsibility for caring for them.

    • AB 2.2

      “One thing I’d love to see Gen Yers do is instead of scrabbling to get on the tail end of the property boom, to get on with creating the new structures of how people can own land/homes together ”

      Yes – here in Auckland I have seen some distraught co-workers (later 20’s early-30’s) having to make a choice among:
      – punitive rents for shabby flats
      – life-long debt-slavery in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for crappy, ugly two-bedders in depressing parts of town.
      – living with their parents
      – giving up their jobs and decamping to the provinces in hope of something better.

      They desperately need a different option

      • weka 2.2.1

        One option being used in the US is the Tiny House movement (and here to a lesser extent). Build a small, moveable home for $10K or $20K, and then pay either minimal or no rent for x years while you save to buy land. Not for everyone because of the close quarters, but there are definitely lots of people now considering this the way forward. For some it’s also about not having to buy into the whole corrupt mortgage scheme too.

        Land sharing arrangements have been around for a long time. I think we could improve that regulations and supports for those, but the biggest block is attitudinal and the skill to share IMO. As Molly points out Māori, Pasifika and other cultures already do this. We should be learning from them and supporting the initiatives they need to have happen.

    • Ad 2.3

      +1
      Shouldn’t be a radical sentiment, but against real estate capitalism, it is.

    • Tomas 2.4

      Well said, Weka.

  3. Lanthanide 3

    538 has already investigated this report and found the underlying reasons for the shift:

    It turns out, though, that the recession wasn’t what led millennials to move back into their old bedrooms (or to not leave in the first place). Rather, long-run shifts in demographics and behavior have been pushing them in that direction for decades. Most importantly, Americans are waiting longer to get married, a trend that long predates the recession. Other long-run trends in education, childbearing and racial diversity (blacks and Hispanics are more likely to live with their parents and are a growing share of the young adult population) have also played an important role. Economist and FiveThirtyEight contributor Jed Kolko recently found that demographic trends explain the entirety of the 20-year increase in the share of young adults living at home.

    In the US case, it appears that the price of housing has nothing to do with it, especially since in America there are *many* cities (not all of them desirable) where houses cost as little as 3x the median wage.

    So, this isn’t “depressing” at all, it’s just natural demographic shift in America.

    • Pat 3.1

      “In the US case, it appears that the price of housing has nothing to do with it, especially since in America there are *many* cities (not all of them desirable) where houses cost as little as 3x the median wage.

      So, this isn’t “depressing” at all, it’s just natural demographic shift in America.”

      that is likely true given the relatively low cost of housing in U.S. but your conclusion is imo wrong…it is not the result of shifting demographics, rather the stagnant nature of pay and work opportunities (and precarious work)…..borne out by the stats re employment and pay since the 80’s.

      Seriously, how many young adults wish to remain living with their parents through their twenties and into their thirties if they have a choice?

      • Lanthanide 3.1.1

        Did you actually read the rest of my comment?

        Admittedly I forgot to put in the 538 link, it’s here:
        http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/stuck-in-your-parents-basement-dont-blame-the-economy/

        And this is the report they reference which shows that the increase in children living at home can be shown to be entirely due to demographics:
        http://jedkolko.com/2015/11/23/why-millennials-still-live-with-their-parents/

        • Pat 3.1.1.1

          yep, read entire comment….no mention of real wages or employment stability anywhere.

          from your own link…
          ‘That doesn’t mean the economy is irrelevant, though. The strong job market of the early 2000s overcame the demographic forces, allowing young singles to afford their own apartments and essentially suppressing the living-with-mom trend until the Great Recession hit. A similarly strong economy could in theory have the same effect today.

          So why haven’t young people started to strike out on their own? There are probably two reasons. First, the economy has improved for them, but it still isn’t great. As I’ve written before, the unemployment rate understates the number of people who are out of work, and millennials who do have jobs are often working part time or for low pay. That’s especially true for people without a college degree, who are also the ones most likely to be living at home.”

          http://www.gallup.com/opinion/chairman/181469/big-lie-unemployment.aspx

          http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/10/09/for-most-workers-real-wages-have-barely-budged-for-decades/

          • Lanthanide 3.1.1.1.1

            The story remains the same: while the demographics-adjusted share of young adults living with parents has increased since the mid-2000s, it remains slightly below the pre-bubble level of the 1990s.

            • Pat 3.1.1.1.1.1

              “What about young adults – why is their household formation meager? The share of young adults living with their parents increased in 2015, which lowers the headship rate. One contributing factor is that 25-34 year-olds are decreasingly likely to be married or cohabitating with a partner, and – unsurprisingly – married or cohabitating young adults rarely live with their parents (just 2% do) compared with 31% of those who aren’t living with a spouse or partner. The decline in marriage among young adults is a long-term trend, pre-dating the recession.
              The link between having a job and living with parents is more complicated. Employed 25-34 year-olds are less likely to live with their parents (13% do) than those who are unemployed or not in the labor force (19%). Although employment-population ratio for young adults has risen steadily since 2011, young adults with jobs are increasingly likely to live with their parents. It’s unclear from the data why employed millennials are staying at home – are the jobs not good enough, or is housing too scarce or expensive? – but it’s clear that the employment recovery hasn’t gotten young adults out of their parents’ basements yet.”

              http://ternercenter.berkeley.edu/blog/new-households

      • Rocco Siffredi 3.1.2

        “Seriously, how many young adults wish to remain living with their parents through their twenties and into their thirties if they have a choice?”

        A lot. This is very common in Greece, Italy, Spain & Japan.

        Bambocciona, big babies.

        http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/jan/17/italian-adults-living-at-home

  4. mary_a 4

    I thought NZ was leading the way here.

  5. infused 5

    Internet. World of Warcraft.

    End.

  6. Bill 6

    If by “now that housing is out of reach”, you mean that people can’t buy houses, then I think you’re missing a clutch of points. When I was in my late teens/early twenties, it would have been unthinkable to hang around in your parent’s home. The idea was to get out and get independent.

    That didn’t mean buying a house. (edited – It didn’t necessarily mean having a job either…or mean getting married)

    Anyone in their twenties or thirties who was living at their parent’s was considered – to be kind – odd. But that’s not the case now.

    Maybe that shift is, in part, a consequence of kids being constantly monitored and managed by adults instead of ‘going out to play’ in the spring and ‘coming back in’ as the winter nights drew in?

    These days seem to ooze with what I’ve heard called ‘learned hopelessness’. Children grow to become people who haven’t learned how to deal with the world, having been ‘taught’ the finer points of an unhealthy dependence that has them constantly turning to ‘mummy and daddy’… and I’ll stop before I launch into a full scale rant about how we’re damaging/ have damaged our children’s generations by imposing cultures of fear and cotton candy wool.

    • weka 6.1

      There’s also the little matter of affordability 😉

      Case in point. When one of my siblings sent off to Uni in the late 80s, they paid $12/wk rent per room in a flat. Admittedly it was a dive (standard Dunedin student fare), but if you look at the rise in rents relative to the rise in income it’s pretty easy to see the maths don’t work any more. Plus the housing shortage.

      • Bill 6.1.1

        When peeps my age left our respective homes, the same (un)affordability issues were there…but we found ways. (Yes, it was a different country containing different sets of possibilities, but still…)

      • miravox 6.1.2

        The issue of job security rather than jobs is also worth considering. A strong economy with higher employment rates would not be enough to allow people to start up their own households if they didn’t know whether their income would be stable enought to pay the rent from month to month even if they did have a job contract… Precariat, ‘self employed contractors’ or uber economy.

  7. AsleepWhileWalking 7

    Basically in my suburb most kids don’t leave home straight away. Far too expensive. I’d point out it is a high decile (9-10) area which will make a difference because our benefit system requires parents on low incomes to avoid worsening their position through subsidising kids rent at home, meaning they might as well move out but this starts them off behind.

    I’m more interested in how many kids leave school and go to WINZ when they otherwise would not due to high accommodation costs alone.

  8. Colonial Viper 8

    Young men are stuffed in these statistics as US traditional working class male jobs have evaporated.

    Young women are less likely than men to be living at home, and are getting on with their lives more successfully than the males.

  9. Nick K 9

    Housing isn’t out of reach in NZ. It is getting that way in some cities, but not countrywide.

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