ESRC Grant number RES-625-28-0001
Draft presentation. Not for citation without
Living without kin: the rise in non-family living
among young adults in the UK
Juliet Stone, Ann Berrington, Emma Calvert and Sue Heath
ESRC Centre for Population Change
University of Southampton
European living arrangements workshop, London School of Economics
18th December, 2009
Background to the project (1)
• ESRC Centre for Population Change
• 4 strands:
1. Household dynamics and living
arrangements across the life course
2. Dynamics of fertility
3. The demographic and socio-economic
implications of national and transnational
4. Modelling population change
Strand 1: Household dynamics and
living arrangements across life course
• The living arrangements of young adults
• Leaving and returning home
• Non-family living
• Research Methods – mixed methods (?)
• Quantitative analysis of secondary data
• Cross-sectional data from LFS, EHCS
• Longitudinal data from BHPS
• Qualitative interviews of young adults
• 40 qualitative interviews young people aged 25-34
• Those who have left home and are living outside of a family
in the Southampton area
Format of this presentation
• Theoretical background
– How to research non-family living?
• Quantitative strategy
• Qualitative strategy
• Transition to adulthood
– extended and individualised
• Early home leaving compared to many other
• Social polarisation of transition experiences
• Emerging adulthood – a new phase of the life
course for more advantaged? (Arnett, 2000;
Typology of living arrangements
Living in a new family
(with partner and/or
Living with others
Some Issues in defining and
researching non-family living
• Physical identification of those living alone versus
• Bedsit………………..shared private………joint mortgage
• Relationships beyond the household e.g. as offspring,
partner or parent
• Transitional nature – routes into and out of status.
• We can no longer assume that people occupy a single
status anyway e.g. spending some time at girlfriend’s
Quantitative Research questions
• How has the overall prevalence of non-family
living changed over the past decade among
• To what extent are trends in the prevalence of
non-family living being driven by changes in
the composition of the population resulting
• Is non-family living associated with previous
experience of higher education?
• UK Labour Force Survey (ONS)
– 1998 and 2008 (Quarterly household datasets)
• Provides detailed information on household composition
and family units within the household
• “A household comprises of a single person, or a group
of people living at the same address who have the
address as their only or main home. They also share one
main meal a day or share the living accommodation (or
both).” Source: LFS User Guide, Volume 8. (Office for National Statistics, 2008)
Overall trend in non-family living
Percentage of men and women living outside a family by
age group: UK 1998 and 2008
20-21 22-24 25-29 30-34 20-21 22-24 25-29 30-34
Types of non-family living
Distribution of types of non-family living among young men living
outside a family in 1998 versus 2008, by age group
80 25-29 years 30-34 years
Living Sharing Sharing Living Sharing Sharing
alone with with non- alone with with non-
relative(s) relative(s) relative(s) relative(s)
Living arrangements 1998 2008
Impact of migration
Percentage of men living outside a family by age group
and country of birth: UK 1998 and 2008
25-29 30-34 25-29 30-34
BORN IN UK BORN OUTSIDE UK
Percentage of young men (25-34 years) living outside
a family in 2008, by highest qualification
Degree A Levels Other None
Highest educational qualification
Types of living arrangements:
men aged 25-34 years
Distribution of types of non-family living among young men
(25-34 years) living outside a family in 2008, by highest
qualification (UK-born only)
Degree A Levels /GCSEs Other None
Living alone Sharing with relative(s) Sharing with non-relative(s)
Some findings from quantitative work
There has been an increase in prevalence of non-family living
for UK men (but not for women) over past decade
Sharing with non-relatives has become a bigger component of
This is partly being driven by immigration e.g. of young A8
Among UK-born men aged 25-34, those who have experienced
higher education are more likely to be living outside of a family
and are more likely to be sharing with unrelated individuals
compared with those with lower educational qualifications.
However, shared living is not confined to those who have
experienced higher education
Even with a large survey such as LFS – numbers become too
small to answer certain questions…….
Mixed Methods Research (MMR)
• Mixed methods research grown in popularity (dedicated Journal of
Mixed Methods Research).
• Many typologies, many inconsistencies.
• Tashakori and Teddlie (2003)
– Multiple method designs:
• Multimethod - QUAN/QUAN or QUAL/QUAL
• Mixed methods research - QUAL/QUAN or QUAN/QUAL
– “A major advantage of mixed methods research is that it enables the
researcher to simultaneously answer confirmatory and exploratory
questions, and therefore verify and generate theory in the same study.”
MMR Known Issues
• “Paradigm wars”.
• Criticisms as to integration (e.g. Bryman, 2007).
• “Research findings can converge, which can be seen as an indicator
of their validity; secondly, they can generate new comprehension of
the phenomenon by forming complementary parts of a jigsaw puzzle,
or thirdly, they can produce unexplainable divergence leading to a
falsification of previous theoretical assumptions”
Erzberger and Prein (1997).
• The qualitative approach is able to explore issues where
secondary data analysis is limited.
• Living arrangements research project - “semi” sequential.
• First phase of quantitative research generates questions and
provides context for qualitative approach.
• Not uni-directional.
• Coles (1995): identified three interlinked transitions:
– Housing transitions
– Employment transitions
– Domestic transitions
• This project builds on previous research on young people,
e.g., ESRC Youth Citizenship and Social Change (Ford et al.,
2002), ESRC Young Adults & Shared Housing Living project
(Heath & Cleaver, 2003).
• Changed economic environment.
Aims and Objectives
• The qualitative phase aims to explore:
– the implications of these shifts for young people’s intimate
relationships with friends, partners, parents and other family
– the degree to which new patterns of intergenerational transfers
of resources might also attend these demographic shifts.
– the interactions between the housing and household pathways.
– imagined futures in relation to household/family formation.
– the strategies adopted in relation to their housing needs and
Key Research Questions
• Key research questions include:
– young people’s perceptions and first hand experiences of the
changing nature of household formation and housing market
– the perceived opportunities and constraints linked to these
– their dependence on, and availability of, resources provided by
peers and family members
• Sample parameters:
– 40 young adults, 25 - 34 yrs old living in/around the city of
– currently living outside of the parental home and do not currently have a
resident partner (but may have a non-resident partner).
• Purposive sampling:
– current living arrangements - living alone/shared accommodation.
– housing tenure - private rented housing/social housing/owner occupied.
– level of qualification - graduate/non-graduate.
– sexual orientation – heterosexual/gay/lesbian/bisexual.
– geographical location – urban/rural/semi-rural.
• Sample recruitment:
– In development – possible mechanisms include local estate
• Research method & analysis:
– Semi-structured interviews.
– Recorded, transcribed and analysed using NVivo 8.
– November 2009 – November 2010.
This research is funded by ESRC Grant number RES-625-28-
0001. The Centre for Population Change is a joint initiative
between the University of Southampton and a consortium of
Scottish Universities in partnership with ONS and GROS. The
findings, interpretations, and conclusions expressed in this paper
are entirely those of the authors and should not be attributed in
any manner to ONS or GROS.
The Labour Force Survey is conducted by the Office for National
Statistics and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research
Agency. Access to the data is provided by the UK Data Archive.
2008 LFS Winter quarter
Sampling frame Target population: All persons resident in private households or NHS accommodation in the UK.
Includes students living in halls of residence as members of non-term-time private household
(usually parental household).
Private households in Great Britain: Postcode Address File (small users subfile).
NB. Due to sparse population north of the Caledonian Canal, a random sample was drawn from the
published telephone directory.
Residents in NHS accommodation: All district health authorities and NHS trusts were asked to
supply a complete list of their accommodation.
Northern Ireland: Valuation List (used for ratings purposes).
Sampling strategy /Stratification For GB south of the Caledonian Canal: Single stage sample of addresses with random start and
constant interval. Addresses are sorted by postcode, so effectively, the sample is stratified
North of Caledonian Canal: Single stage sample with random start and constant interval.
Participants approached initially by telephone.
Northern Ireland: Valuation list is organised into three geographical strata.
1. Belfast District Council area,
2. Eastern sub-region (most of Antrim, Down and part of Armagh),
3. Western sub-region (remainder of Northern Ireland).
Within each stratum rateable units are selected at random without substitution, to obtain the 650
'new' addresses entering the panel each quarter.
Weights Yes – household weight PHHWT07