Dutch 20-somethings hitting milestones later and later

The Dutch people in their twenties of today are hitting milestones later than their peers from a decade ago. Last year's 20-somethings left home later, studied longer, were less likely to have permanent employment, bought their own home later, moved in with a partner later, and also started a family later than the 20-somethings of 2008, Statistics Netherlands reported on Monday.

The biggest difference between the 20-somethings of 2018 and those of 2008 is the age at which they had a permanent job. In 2018, half of 27-year-olds had a permanent employment relationship. In 2008 it was half of 24-year-olds. According to the stats office, this has to do with the current 20-somethings dealing with a labor market where a flexible working relationship is more common. 

The current people in their 20s also study for longer and therefore enter the labor market later. In 2008 more than half of 23-year-olds were no longer studying. Last year more than half of 24-year-olds finished their studies. A larger proportion of people in their 20s follow a higher professional or university education, which means that their studies take longer to complete, according to the stats office.

People in their 20s also live with their parents for longer. At the start of last year, half of 23-year-olds had moved out of their parents home. A decade earlier, half of 22-year-olds had moved out of their parents home. A previous study by Statistics Netherlands showed that the introduction of the student loan system in 2015 resulted in fewer students living in dorm rooms or on their own. Women still leave home at a younger age than men, but the difference is getting smaller. At the age of 22 last year, 54 percent of women and 39 percent of men no longer lived with their parents. 

This partly contributed to the fact that people in their 20s wait longer to buy their own homes. Last year they were on average two years older than in 2008. "Without a steady income it is more difficult to get a mortgage, but the mortgage rules also became stricter and house prices have risen quickly", the stats office said. In 2017 a total of 14 percent of 22-year-olds owned their own home, compared to 26 percent in 2008.

In connection with the shifted age in the other life milestones, the current 20-somethings also wait longer to start relationships and families. "Women usually start younger than men, but the moment has shifted for both." The point at which more than half of 20-somethings live together, married or unmarried, was 28 years in 2018. In 2008 it was 27 years. In 2008 over 30 percent of 29-year-olds were married, last year it was over a quarter. The average age of the first marriage increased from 30 years in 2008 to 31.5 years last year for women and from 32.8 years to 33.9 years for men. 

The share of 20-somethings with children also decreased, especially among young women. At age 25, nearly 20 percent of women had at least one child. At the start of last year, it was almost 15 percent. The average age at which women have their first child rose from 29.4 years in 2008 to 29.9 years last year. Men are usually about three years older than women when they have their first child. The share of fathers in their 20s is therefore smaller than the share of mothers. At 29, some 22 percent of men were dads and just under 41 percent of women were moms.