Age norms on leaving home: multilevel evidence from the European Social Survey

Arnstein Aassve, Università Bocconi
Bruno Arpino, Università Bocconi
Francesco C. Billari, Università Bocconi

Young people leave the parental home at different ages, and such differences exist both between and within societies. To explain this heterogeneity, differences in earnings and employment, education, family formation are popular candidates. Comparative work has emphasised the importance of institutional arrangements, in particular the way state welfare systems are able to support young individuals in the transition to adulthood. It has been argued, however, that despite differences in welfare support, differences in social norms also play an important role. In this paper we make an attempt to explain the heterogeneity in individuals’ perception of the “age deadline” for leaving home. Using information from the third round of the European Social Survey (ESS) we implement a series of multi-level regression models where we account for country, regional and individual heterogeneity. The idea is that contextual variables may affect individuals’ perception of the age deadline, which in turn is likely to matter for the actual age of leaving home. Just as in the literature concerned with explaining actual behaviour, we find that strong normative differences between countries persist – even after controlling for individual specific characteristics. We also find significant, even though lower, regional variability in the analysis on the pooled set of European countries we have in our data set. Unemployment rate and education are found to have a strong role in explaining norms heterogeneity at the country level, while religiosity influences age norms at the regional level.

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Presented in Session 91: Multilevel perspectives on his and her life course in Europe

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