Volume 34 - Article 4 | Pages 109–142

Racial and ethnic differences in leaving and returning to the parental home: The role of life course transitions, socioeconomic resources, and family connectivity

By Lei Lei, Scott South

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Date received:15 May 2015
Date published:19 Jan 2016
Word count:10473
Keywords:adulthood, living arrangements, mobility, race/ethnicity


Background: Although Black and Hispanic young adults in the U.S. are less likely than Whites to move out of the parental home and more likely than Whites to return, reasons for these differences have not been clearly identified.

Objective: This study examines the ability of racial/ethnic disparities in life course transitions, socioeconomic resources, and family connectivity to account for racial/ethnic differences in leaving and returning home.

Methods: Using data from the 2005-2011 waves of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics’ Transition into Adulthood study (N=1,491, age 18 to 26), we estimated discrete-time event history models predicting the timing of moving out of and back into the parental home.

Results: Although no single factor completely explained racial-ethnic differences in the timing of leaving and returning to the parental home, the bulk of the Black-White differences in both home-leaving and home-returning was explained by group differences in transitions into adult roles, the ability to afford independent living, and connections to the origin family. These factors also explained most of the Mexican-White difference in home-leaving. However, only a small portion of the Hispanic-White difference in returning home was attributable to the proposed explanatory variables.

Conclusions: Explanations for racial and ethnic differences in the timing of leaving and returning to the parental home need to consider a broad array of life course characteristics in which Black, Hispanic, and White youth differ. The factors that explain Black-White differences in home-leaving and home-returning may differ from those that explain Hispanic-White differences in these behaviors.

Author's Affiliation

Lei Lei - Rutgers University, United States of America [Email]
Scott South - State University of New York at Albany, United States of America [Email]

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