Moving out of home is not easy for the boys

COVID slowed young people’s emancipation, Eurostat report shows

COVID slowed young people’s emancipation, Eurostat report shows

It also confirmed trends that men are more reluctant to fly away from the parental nest

On 12 August, Eurostat released its annual report on the state of the economic and social emancipation of young people on the continent. In other words, it gives us a general idea at what age they decide to leave their parental home and become truly independent adults. In 2020, the average age of taking that step for EU youngsters was 26.4 years.

This year’s report was interesting because it gave us the first look at how the coronavirus pandemic has affected the maturing process of young Europeans. The numbers show that the average age of emancipation has increased, meaning that children were reluctant to venture out into the world while COVID was raging.

Enjoying mom’s cooking a little longer

The report also confirmed trends that have been observed in the past decades, which showed that everywhere young women are braver when it comes to spreading their wings than their male counterparts. There are regional differences in this gender gap, however, and they seem to be closely linked to economic factors, although many would argue that culture and tradition play their prominent role, too.

In most northern and western countries, young people left the parental home on average in their early to mid-twenties, while in southern and eastern countries the average age was in the late twenties or early thirties.

The oldest average ages, all at 30 years or higher, were recorded in Croatia (32.4), Slovakia (30.9), Malta and Italy (both 30.2) and Portugal (30.0 years). By contrast, Denmark (21.2 years), Luxembourg (19.8) and Sweden (17.5) recorded the lowest average ages, all under 22 years old.

A graph showing that European men like staying home longer than European women.
Source: Eurostat

What’s more, the countries where children lingered longer at home also showed that it was a phenomenon that applied more to men than to women – with wider gender gaps in that respect. This immediately might conjure up knowing smirks about ‘Mediterranean momma’s boys’ in some people’s minds.

However, these gaps are the widest in the poorest countries of the EU, all of which are also located on the Balkan Peninsula. In Romania, young males left at 30.0, and females at 25.5 years (4.5 years gender gap), followed by Bulgaria (4.2 gender gap) with males moving out at 32.0, and females at 27.8 years. In Croatia, both young men and women moved out the latest in the EU (at the age of 34.0 and 30.9 years, respectively).

Setting aside cultural factors, this shows that labour market conditions and opportunities for personal development may have a more decisive role to play in such decisions.

Researchers have pointed out that if we also take into account neighbouring non-EU countries, such as North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey, we will see that there is a strong interplay between NEET rates and the emancipation age. NEET, to clarify, is the now-common acronym for young people who are neither employed nor studying.



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