The Malta Independent 18 July 2024, Thursday
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Maltese Among most likely to live at home into their 30s - European Commission to carry out study on youth autonomy

Malta Independent Sunday, 7 March 2010, 00:00 Last update: about 11 years ago

Maltese young people are among the most likely to live at home with their parents well into their 20s and even their 30s, according to figures published by Eurostat, the EU’s statistical arm.

In reply to a question, the European Commission said it was well aware of the challenges connected with young people living longer with their parents. These affected the birth rate and ageing population, among other matters.

The Commission also announced recently its intention to carry out a study on youth autonomy in order to gain a better insight into the complexity of factors that help young people through the transition phase to adulthood and setting up their own households. Such a study will, among other things, elaborate on possible instruments that promote youth autonomy and how they can be applied at both national and European levels.

Maltese males and females trailed closely behind Bulgaria, Slovenia and Slovakia in terms of the average number of years spent living with their parents across the whole of the EU. According to the figures published recently, which date back to 2007, The average Maltese male lives at home until the age of 31, while females tend to do so until the age of 29.6.

Bulgarian, Slovakian and Slovenian figures are only slightly higher, with the average age for Slovakia and Slovenia being 31.5 for males and 29.7 for females. Bulgarian males, however, took the dubious prize for living with their parents the longest in the EU, until the age of 31.5, but Bulgarian women tend to leave home somewhat earlier, at the age of 27.7.

Although in all member states, men stay longer in the parental home than women, there is a wide range in the figures across the Union. At the other end of the spectrum to Malta, in 2007 the average age for leaving home for men was 23.1 in Finland and 24.2 in both France and the Netherlands

For women, the average age was below 30 in all member states, ranging from 22 in Finland, 23.1 in France and 23.2 in the Netherlands to 29.8 in Slovakia, 29.6 in Slovenia and 29.5 in Italy, the latter just 0.2 points behind Maltese women.

In a reply to questions on the report, Commissioner Androulla Vassilou responsible for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said the stage when young people reach full autonomy can at least in part be explained by cultural factors. However, it is also linked to a complex set of other issues.

The state of the economy and accessibility of affordable housing, level of education, whether the person has gained employment or is about to become a parent, or feels socially excluded for any number of reasons or even the existence of possible government support programmes – these are all determinants that may have an impact on when a person moves out of the home to set up his or her own household, Ms Vassilou said.

Malta had one of the lowest unemployment rates – 7.6 per cent – for those aged 25 to 34 with a low education level, with figures ranging between 6.4 per cent in the Netherlands and 53.7 per cent in Slovakia, 34.4 per cent in the Czech Republic and 31.1 per cent in Latvia. Those with medium and higher education levels seemed to have been more successful in finding employment, although statistics varied between countries.

According to a Eurobarometer survey carried out in 2007 among young people, language difficulties are the main reason that young Europeans think it might be difficult for them if they wanted to find a job in another country; 43 per cent of respondents selected this as the most significant barrier. However, young people in Malta were the only ones to think otherwise – pointing out that they thought a job abroad was not affordable, as the main obstacle to mobility.

The same survey indicates that young people predominantly remain with their parents for material purposes. More than 50 per cent of survey respondents in Hungary, Portugal, Greece, Germany, Poland and Bulgaria said that the main reason for staying with their parents was that they could not afford to move out. Twenty-eight per cent of young respondents from all member states claim that there is not enough housing available.

Ms Vassilou acknowledged that the age at when young people leave the parental home and establish their own household also has an impact on the birth rate and the ageing of our society.

She said the European Commission was well aware of the challenges connected with young people living longer with their parents before establishing their own household. In fact, the new EU Youth Strategy (2010-2018), endorsed by the Council on 27 November last year on the basis of a Commission communication, emphasises the need for closer coordination between policy sectors on issues that relate to young people such as education, employment, health, social inclusion and youth participation, all of which have an impact on how long young people stay in their parental home. It also outlines the terms of a continuous broad consultation with young people on youth policy issues, called “the structured dialogue”. Working groups and peer-learning activities will also facilitate the exchange of good practices between member states in the youth policy areas mentioned above.

The Commission undertook to continue working together with member states on how to facilitate an environment where young people can realise their potential as citizens and contribute fully to society. This includes promoting the development of more research and knowledge regarding young people’s living conditions and opportunities, something which is seen as essential in order to ensure an evidence-based and coordinated cross-sectoral youth policy.

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