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What you should know about this study

This study is based on data from the 2001 General Social Survey (GSS) on family history. The GSS interviewed 24,310 individuals aged 15 and over, living in private households in one of the 10 provinces. One extensive section of the survey collected data on the number of times respondents left the parental home and their age at the time of each of these events. Information about first and last departures from the parental home allows the transition to adult independence to be studied for several generations of Canadians. This study is based on individuals aged 15 to 69 in 2001.1

Five birth cohorts are examined, with the text mainly focusing on Wave 1 Boomers and Generation X:

Generation Y - born between 1977 and 1986, and 15 to 24 years old at the time of the survey;
Generation X – born 1967 to 1976, aged 25 to 34;
Wave 2 Boomers – born 1957 to 1966, aged 35 to 44;
Wave 1 Boomers – born 1947 to 1956, aged 45 to 54; and
War/Depression cohort – born between 1932 and 1946, and
55 to 69 years old at the time of the GSS.

The pattern of returning home within five years of a person's first departure is analysed in two steps. First, life-tables are used to calculate the cumulative probabilities that highlight the differences in the intensity and timing of returning to the parental home by cohorts. Second, event history analysis is used to identify the demographic and socio-economic factors associated with returning home. These factors are presented as risk ratios.

Return: An adult child's return to live in the parental home within five years of their first departure.

Boomerang: An adult child's return to the parental home after a period of living independently. Thus, boomerang kid.

Risk ratios: The estimated probability that compared with a reference individual, an individual with a certain characteristic will return to the parental home for the first time at a given age. This is expressed in the article as "a higher/lower probability compared with a reference person of the same age" or a higher/lower likelihood of returning home than someone in the reference group.

The risk ratios were calculated with a proportional hazard model using the following explanatory variables: respondent's birth cohort; family environment when the respondent was age 15 (family composition, mother's and father's employment status, mother's birthplace, religious attendance); the geographic characteristics of the respondent's place of residence when he or she was 15 (region/province/foreign country, size of town/city); and the level of educational attainment the respondent had obtained by the time he or she left the parental home, and employment status. Separate models were run for men and women.


  1. Based on respondents' interpretation and recollection of the age at which they left home and returned home.

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