HomeLifeHILDA survey reveals nation of stay-at-homes

HILDA survey reveals nation of stay-at-homes

The terms bank of mum and dad and empty-nesters have gained popularity in the past couple of decades. Now, though, there’s a new one that could soon take hold – the stay-at-homes. That’s according to the latest release of a report called the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey.

We’re not talking about stay-at-home dads or mums here. We’re referring to adult children who have not moved out of home, and perhaps show no signs of doing so. The proportion of Australian non-dependent children living at home beyond their mid-20s or later has risen over the past couple of decades.

Why this trend has emerged is difficult to pinpoint. Some might cite the COVID pandemic as major contributing factor, but the HILDA survey suggests there’s more to the story.

What HILDA tells us about stay-at-homes

If the pandemic was a major contributor to this increase, we’d expect to see a spike in the numbers from 2020. However, the HILDA survey does not display any such spike. In fact, the biggest spikes occurred in about 2010 for men, and a few years later for women.

The trend in the proportion of adult children continues upwards, but at a relatively steady rate with no indication of a pandemic influence.

Taking a closer look at age brackets, the HILDA survey reveals that around 80 per cent of 18 to 21-year-olds are stay-at-homes. The proportion is slightly higher for men (84.8 per cent) than for women (79.5 per cent). That compares to 76.6 per cent of men and 61.9 per cent of women 20 years earlier in 2001.

Unsurprisingly, the HILDA data shows a drop in the proportion with increasing age. For men in the 22-25 bracket, the proportion living at home in 2021 was 54.1 per cent compared to 42.1 per cent in 2001. The corresponding figures for women in the same age group were 41.0 per cent (2021) and 32.0 per cent (2001).

The numbers drop significantly from 26 onwards, as one might suspect. Only 31.2 per cent of men aged 26-29 were stay-at-homes in 2021. However, this is still a considerable increase on the 2001 figure of 21.3 per cent.

In 2021, 27.5 per cent of women aged 26-29 were stay-at-homes, compared to just 15.9 per cent in 2001.

Is this upward trend good or bad?

The answer to that question might depend on whether you are the parent or the child! Obviously, the family dynamic would play a big part. If parents and children are constantly at loggerheads, the stay-at-home option might not be an ideal arrangement.

Interestingly, a separate survey indicates that many Aussies believe living with your parents beyond age 26 is not acceptable. A Canstar survey of more than 2000 Australians revealed that half of them believed adults aged 26 or older should have ‘moved on’. Equally interesting was the fact that this figure held true across all generations.

What else does HILDA tell us?

The living status of adult children comprises only a small element of the ongoing HILDA survey. HILDA has tracked the same group of 17,000 people in more than 9000 households since 2001, recording myriad details.

As the report’s full title suggests, this takes in living arrangements, income levels and employment arrangements. It also looks at aspects of health, physical and psychological, and even at how sleep patterns have changed.

The survey, funded by the Australian government through the Department of Social Services, is published by the University of Melbourne’s Melbourne Institute. Full copies of the current and past reports are available via the Melbourne Institute.

Do you still have adult children living at home? Do you consider that a good thing? Let us know via the comments section below.

Also read: How to reframe the empty nest into a positive

Andrew Gigacz
Andrew Gigaczhttps://www.patreon.com/AndrewGigacz
Andrew has developed knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income and government entitlements, as well as issues affecting older Australians moving into or living in retirement. He's an accomplished writer with a passion for health and human stories.


  1. You are forgetting those who have investment properties where our kids live in them. Many on low or no rents.
    These properties were meant to be our superannuation. Now we are looking after kids and grandkids.

    If we had a 10 bedroom house with intergenerational families it would be different. NO capital gains or land tax on the properties. No negative gearing.

    It is not one size fits all.

  2. Of course! What else can the younger generation do? Previous governments have created this dilemma, not just our current “newbie” one, which is trying its best to fix up the mess they’ve inherited! So, with the out-of-control costs of living, & the shocking cost of housing in capital cities where the work is, plus almost one in two marriages breaking up, no wonder this is occurring! At least it might provide the older generation with an alternative to being forced to into one of those so-called “paradisiacal” retirement villages pushed at us by developers only interested in their bottom line.

  3. There is nothing wrong with having children who are older living at home as long as they respect the fact that it is your home. This ridiculous concept that children must leave home very early in age is ridiculous. Look at the other cultures that have intergenerational living arrangements and how they work. The only way for alot of children is save is to live at home longer.

  4. Three of my four adult children have returned home to live with me at different times. My youngest did that a while ago when she came back to Sydney after she completed her studies at a uni in Melbourne and it’s great having her here. She pays half the rent, a share of the utilities and buys groceries as needed.

    In return I have company when she’s at home and someone who is here in case of emergency and she has a place where she is on the lease and isbuilding a credit rating and a place close to the city and work with plenty of space where she feels safe and comfortable. She would have to rent a place with a long commute to be able to afford a rental of her own.

    I have no problem with adult kids living in the family home.

  5. Our adult daughter still lives at home. It’s not a burden. She continues to contribute to our home much the same as when she was at school, washing and general cleaning, except now she cooks more often, picks up groceries and has replaced household appliances. Would it be nice if she had her own home? Definitely; but as a single person I don’t see that unless we win lotto. Until then we have a built in dog sitter when we run away in the van

- Our Partners -


- Advertisment -


- Advertisment -

Log In

Forgot password?

Don't have an account? Register

Forgot password?

Enter your account data and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Your password reset link appears to be invalid or expired.

Log in

Privacy Policy

Add to Collection

No Collections

Here you'll find all collections you've created before.