Trajectories of leaving the parental home: Traditional values, individualistic attitudes, and youth transitions of Chinese young people

Jin Jiang, Chunni Zhang

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paperpeer-review


Leaving the parental home is a key marker of the transition to adulthood. Research on the transition to independent living tends to focus on a singular transition rather than the trajectories. However, the home-leaving process has become fuzzy and reversible, as recent studies on Western societies show that young home-leavers “boomerang” back to their family home. In East Asian societies, traditional family values require adult children live with their ageing parents to provide care. Meanwhile, because of the rapid modernisation, young people in these societies may hold individualistic attitudes and prefer living independently. Consequently, the home-leaving trajectories are complex but are not systematically investigated.
Drawing on nationally representative longitudinal data from China (2010–2018), we use sequence analysis to classify eight different home-leaving trajectories of young people (age 16–35). We adopt multinomial logistic regression to assess how young people’s traditional values, individualistic attitudes and youth transitions lead to these trajectories. The results show that compared with females, males, particularly males of rural origin, are more likely to live with their parents. Besides, a college education does not increase young people’s likelihood of independent living. Instead, college-educated youth are more likely to stay in their own/partnered parental home after marriage (intergenerational nesters). The findings support the perspective of traditional values that emphasizes filial piety but contradict the perspective of individual attitudes that stresses the positive effect of education on the preference for independence. More importantly, we find that the experiences of transitions to work and parenthood lead to different home-leaving trajectories. Compared to employed youth, those with discontinuous employment are more likely to “boomerang” back home and those who experienced prolonged school-to-work transition tend to be “nest-stayers”. Having a kid also increases young people’s likelihood of being intergenerational nesters. This study beckons researchers to examine young people’s linked life course trajectories.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2023
EventXX ISA World Congress of Sociology - Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 25 Jun 20231 Jul 2023 (Conference website) (Conference programme)


ConferenceXX ISA World Congress of Sociology
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