A thirty-year-old in pajamas, slumped on the bed of his parents who surround him, tense faces. The film Tanguy, directed by Étienne Chatiliez in 2001, gave its name to these young adults who live later and later with their parents. According to the “Key figures for youth 2023” published on May 30 by the National Institute for Youth and Popular Education (Injep), young French people leave the parental home at the age of 23.6 on average. An age that has been getting longer for fifty years. In 1973, 41% of 18-29 year olds still lived in the family home, compared to 46% in 2018 according to INSEE.
Increase in the duration of studies, rise in real estate prices and difficulties in accessing employment… The reasons for this extension are mainly economic. However, young French people take their independence earlier than their European neighbors who leave the nest at 26.5 years old on average. With strong disparities, from 19 years old for Sweden to 33 years old in Portugal.
Multiple factors that drive independence
The majority of young people who leave their parental home do so to study or work outside their town of origin. Leaving is often a norm in rural areas. “I left when I was 18. The closest university to my parents was an hour away, that was obvious. If we want to study, we have to leave,” explains Janice, a 22-year-old student from Dinan (Côtes-d’Armor).
Others no longer manage to live with their parents. “They don’t have the same way of life, which requires constant adjustments,” explains Claude Martin, sociologist and emeritus research director at the CNRS. “I no longer got along with my mother, it was impossible to continue, describes Bérénice, who left at 20. It was a relief. Sometimes these situations lead to greater precariousness. “At first, I had three jobs in addition to my internship. Independence has a price,” she concludes.
A desire for freedom
Different relationship to money, maturity, empowerment… The young people who leave see many advantages. “Their desire for autonomy is very strong. There is an aspiration to take charge of one’s life and make one’s own choices in the face of a generation that does not necessarily represent models to follow,” explains Claude Martin. “I said to myself that life was finally beginning, I no longer needed to be accountable”, describes Margaux, who left her parents at 17 to study in preparatory literature in Nantes, who specifies: “My parents helped pay the rent. »
Like her, the young people who move out generally come from relatively well-off backgrounds or receive help from their family. “These young people are autonomous but dependent longer”, describes Claude Martin. So much so that some sometimes return to their parents. A phenomenon reinforced by the Covid-19 and the multiple confinements.
A growing cohabitation
Despite these powerful desires for independence, the duration of cohabitation lengthens. Psychiatrist Nicolas Zdanowicz points to a change in the relationship with parents: “We break up less strongly with our parents than fifty years ago. A bond of affective codependency was created. »
Those who stay do so mainly for financial reasons and put money aside to prepare for their departure. This is the case of Rodolphe, returned to his mother after five years of study in Toulouse. At 28, he has just obtained the bar and plans to take off again next August. “I went back to my mother for financial reasons. She couldn’t afford to help me and I couldn’t work outside of law school. It was difficult, but I do not regret this choice. »