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Sunday 24 September 2023 Dublin: 16°C
Shutterstock/fizkes Young adults are finding it harder to move out of the family home
Ireland among EU countries with the biggest increase in young adults living with their parents
For Ireland, the increase in this area was significantly higher than most of the EU.

IRELAND IS ONE of seven EU countries that saw the biggest increase in young adults (25-34 years old) living with their parents between 2010 and 2019, according to research conducted by EU agency Eurofound.

The study’s publication coincided with the publication of census findings that show a drop in overall homeownership of 4% between 2011 and 2022.

Although the study shows that Ireland is among the worst performers in this area, the difficulty young Irish people have moving out of the family home fits into a wider trend across the EU in recent times. 

“The age at which at least 50% of people in the EU were living outside their parental home increased from 26 to 28 between 2007 and 2019,” the report read.  

In the EU as a whole, 29% of 25 to 34-year-olds lived with their parents in 2010, according to Eurofound. This share had increased to 31% by 2019.

For Ireland, the increase in this area was significantly higher than most of the EU, with the number of 25 to 34-year-olds living at home in Ireland, alongside Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Spain, rising by 6% or more in the same period. 

The party of homeownership?

The topic of young adults’ difficulty moving out was the subject of a debate in the Dáil yesterday, when Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns blamed the problem of decreased home-ownership among young people on the government and, in particular, Fine Gael. 

“We’ve gone from young people aspiring to home ownership to finding it increasingly difficult to move out of their childhood bedrooms,” Cairns said during Leaders’ Questions.

“And yet you still claim with a straight face that Fine Gael is the party of home ownership. I don’t honestly know who you think you’re kidding but people have had enough of that kind of spin.

“You’ve now been in office for 12 years. At what point do you think you’d take some responsibility for the fact that your approach isn’t working? It’s difficult to know when you’ve yet to even acknowledge the fact that your approach isn’t working.”

She pointed to statistics which showed that the share of 25 to 34-year-olds who own their own home more than halved between 2004 and 2019, plummeting from just 60% to 27%. 

However, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar defended the Government’s action on the issue and insisted he was a believer in home-ownership. 

“I am somebody who believes in home-ownership. I believe no form of housing security is batter than home-ownership,” he said.

Varadkar did concede, however, that it is particularly difficult for young people to buy their own home in Ireland at present.

“Yes, I acknowledge that home-ownership has fallen in the period of the census between 2016 and 2022, but at 66% it is still the case that two-thirds of people in Ireland own their own home,” he said.

“I want that figure to go back up again. I would like to see it going back up towards 70%. 

“I know that there is a generational divide and that many people in their 20s and 30s and even 40s are unable to purchase their own home at the moment.

“What we have seen in the past couple of months… is a very major uptake in the number of people buying their first home.”

‘Most common issue’

Speaking to The Journal, Cairns claimed that housing was the most common issue brought up by her party’s constituents.

“Housing is the biggest issue that we, as politicians, are contacted about. You learn about some incredibly sad and upsetting cases when constituents, at the coal face of the housing disaster, contact constituency offices. The worst thing is – it doesn’t have to be like this. All of these people are being failed by the State.

“One of the most basic requirements in a functioning society is the provision of secure and affordable housing. Housing is supposedly this government’s biggest priority. It is also its biggest failure.” 

When asked what the Social Democrats would do to change the situation for the better, Cairns said her party would “introduce a punitive tax on vacancy” and “dramatically increase the supply of social, cost-rental and affordable homes.”

Additionally, she said:

“We would boost the powers of state bodies to compulsorily purchase land; stop investing public money into private rental only developments and boost investment into affordable homes; increase the number of construction workers by reforming apprenticeship schemes; make much better use of modular technology, introduce penalties for developers who sit on planning permissions to boost land values and impose a windfall tax on profits when rezoned land is sold for huge private profit.”

“The Social Democrats would also actually spend the full housing budget. Incredibly, the government failed to spend €1 billion of its housing budget – in the middle of an unprecedented housing disaster. That kind of mismanagement would not happen on our watch.”

Wider debate 

The debate around the subject of homeownership and living arrangements for young adults comes against the backdrop of an ongoing housing and homelessness crisis that has dominated much of the country’s political debate of late. 

One of the key points of contention in the arguments over the situation has been the ban on no-fault evictions, which was lifted earlier this year. 

A number of opposition parties have called for the ban to be reinstated but the government has insisted that doing so would not substantially alleviate the situation.

The cost of rent is another major factor in the debate and Census data published yesterday morning shows the increase in average rent paid to a private landlord between 2016 and 2022 was 37%, going from €199.92 to €272.91. 

Homeless charities have consistently warned that more and more people from walks of life not usually associated with homelessness are availing of their services. 

When the eviction ban was lifted, some of those charities predicted a “tsunami” of evictions. 

That has not come to pass though as the number of eviction notices received in the first quarter of 2023 (4,753) was similar to the previous two quarters.

However, as the debate was at its height, other homeless charities predicted a slower rise, arguing that many people do not go directly into homelessness upon eviction, but instead end up staying with family or friends on a temporary basis. 

Speaking to The Journal at the time the ban was being lifted, Focus Ireland’s Mike Allen said:

“For the single people with families, they go and live with somebody for a week or a month or several months. They didn’t immediately end up in homelessness the day after the eviction ban ended.

“We’re going to see slowly but steadily a rising tide over a period of five, six, seven months.” 

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