The Significance of Geography in the Transition to Adulthood

Elise Bowditch, University of Washington
Suzanne Withers, University of Washington

In this paper we examine the geographic origins and destinations of children leaving home from young adulthood through their mid-thirties. Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics we explore proximity to the parental home using zip code, county, state and city size. We consider family characteristics (attitudes, need, coherence) and their relation to proximity to the parental home. While approximately one-half (or more) of young adults settle within the same county as their parents, and one-quarter are within the same zip code by their mid-thirties, these general measures mask more varied behavior by particular subgroups. Using means testing and a binomial logit model, we find that proximity varies by race, gender and city size in ways that are more complex than general geographical measures of home leaving indicate. This study points to more research on different home-leaving experiences for youth that do not follow the college-career-move-away path to adulthood.

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Presented in Poster Session 3: Children and Youth, Adolescence, Parenting, Transition to Adulthood, Life Course