Leaving Parental Home in Germany: "Hotel Mama" Revisited.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 41 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Dirk KONIETZKA, TU Braunschweig, Germany
André TATJES, Technische Universitat Braunschweig, Germany
It is a widely held belief that in Germany, likewise in other Western societies, the age of leaving parental home has risen. Already in the 1980s, sociologists posited that life transitions in young adulthood are occurring later and, in a general sense, altered temporal life course patterns reflect changes in the organization of the ‘modern life course’. This heavily influenced public perception with recurring media reports dealing with a new generation unwilling to leave "Hotel Mama".

Nevertheless, empirical evidence is anything but clear. For cohorts born in the 1960s and later, over the years contradictory findings have been published. This is due to the fact that many studies relied on general population surveys, which do not allow small-scale cohort comparisons and which are often associated with statistically not reliable estimations of cohort-specific coefficients regarding leaving home. Comparing findings from earlier studies, we in fact find variation regarding the median age of leaving home.

We pooled seven datasets (N=31.336) that cover comparable information on leaving home in West Germany for cohorts born 1925 to 1984. This data-base enables us, for the first time, to provide reliable estimations of changes in the process of leaving home. It entails key explanatory factors which cover individual and contextual conditions affecting the decision process of leaving home. Even though the dataset does not allow differentiating target states (single household vs. joint household with a partner), we can answer two relevant empirical questions: Can we empirically confirm an increase in the median age at which young people leave parental home in a cohort comparison? If this is the case, for which cohorts does this trend apply and how do socio-structural factors affect the process under study?

Our analyses show less change than usually assumed and, simultaneously, we find considerable social gradients concerning the home leaving process.