Slow road to independence is a problem for the young and parents alike

August 13, 2004

The trend for young people to continue in education and postpone independence is creating problems for them and parents, according to new research sponsored by the ESRC.

A study led by Professor Gill Jones, at Keele University, found that with the age of independence now effectively 24, there are difficulties both for parents with limited financial resources and other responsibilities, and for young adults who want to be able to make and act on their own decisions. By offering or withholding support, parents can affect young people's choices.

While for most young people the road to adulthood is getting longer, those from middle class families are still far more likely to go on to higher education and defer their independence. In contrast, many from a working class background still expect jobs and independence earlier.

Professor Jones said: "We found that parents were unclear about their responsibilities, as indeed is family law. Most thought their legal obligation to provide food, clothing and shelter ended at 16 rather than 18.

"Many knew of no legal obligation to support children who are students or low-paid workers, although government policies affecting young people tend to assume that basic maintenance will be subsidised by parents into the mid-twenties - the middle class pattern."

Interviews were carried out with young people aged between 16 and 25 - including full-time workers, students, unemployed and full-time mothers - and their parents. Whilst parents said their own move to independence had been more abrupt, usually linked to marriage, 90 per cent thought it harder for young people to stand on their own feet now because of financial constraints.

Most young people turn to parents for financial help, with grandparents, partners and in-laws coming into play only where there is no support from home. Though 61 per cent of the young people thought their families had helped a lot, 16 per cent said they received little or no assistance. Only 39 per cent thought their parents could have afforded to help more.

For young people, parental support comes in three categories: basic maintenance, ending when they start full-time work, usually at 18 to 21; one-off, large scale support for specific needs, such as a flat, car or baby equipment; and safety-net help for emergencies, expected to last over a longer period.

Most higher education students, but not all, had allowances or occasional help from parents, who took on extra work or cashed savings. Many university students took on jobs, but this affected their studies and could be counter-productive. Some cut costs by attending local universities and living board-free with their parents.

Living at home was essential but not free for further education students and trainees. Further education students who could not live at home and had no family support dropped out of courses.

Whilst some students dropped out explicitly for financial reasons, others said they could not justify the expense. Fear of debt put many off higher education altogether.

Professor Jones added: "Parents and students have to be able to identify returns on their investment, so there is pressure on young people to succeed both academically and in future careers. Two unemployed graduates thought work experience might have been more useful, as did some parents."
-end-
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Professor Gill Jones on 0131 467 6352 (home and evening), 44-789-904-4212 (mobile) Email: gill.jones@blueyonder.co.uk

Or Iain Stewart, Lesley Lilley or Becky Gammon at ESRC, on 01793 413032/413119/413122.

Economic & Social Research Council

Related Education Articles from Brightsurf:

Applying artificial intelligence to science education
A new review published in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching highlights the potential of machine learning--a subset of artificial intelligence--in science education.

Dementia education
School-based dementia education could deliver much needed empathy and understanding for older generations as new research from the University of South Australia shows it can significantly improve dementia knowledge and awareness among younger generations.

How can education researchers support education and public health and institutions during COVID-19?
As education researchers' ongoing work is interrupted by school closures, what can they do to support education and public health institutions dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic?

Online education platforms could scale high-quality STEM education for universities
Online and blended (online and in-person) STEM instruction can produce the same learning outcomes for students as traditional, in-person classes at a fraction of the cost, finds research published today in Science Advances.

Technology in higher education: learning with it instead of from it
Technology has shifted the way that professors teach students in higher education.

The new racial disparity in special education
Racial disparity in special education is growing, and it's more complex than previously thought.

Education may be key to a healthier, wealthier US
A first-of-its-kind study estimate the economic value of education for better health and longevity.

How education may stave off cognitive decline
Prefrontal brain regions linked to higher educational attainment are characterized by increased expression of genes involved in neurotransmission and immunity, finds a study of healthy older adults published in JNeurosci.

Does more education stem political violence?
In a study released online today in Review of Educational Research, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association, three Norwegian researchers attempt to bring clarity to this question by undertaking the first systematic examination of quantitative research on this topic.

Individual education programs not being used as intended in special education
Gone are the days when students with disabilities were placed in a separate classroom, or even in a completely different part of the school.

Read More: Education News and Education Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.