Waiting for my chips last night, the man working the fryer started talking about not understanding ‘the young people these days’. He was in charge of my dinner so I was a captive audience, and I think he knew that.

His main frustration seemed to be his 33 year-old son who still hasn’t moved out of the family home - a concept he couldn’t wrap his head around. I nodded along until an equally hungry patron pointed out it’s probably through necessity rather than desire.

Most of us have the odd anecdote like this about how different times are now but the latest Labour Force Survey from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has helped put some data behind the stories, especially around housing and the UK workforce.

In line with last night’s episode, this week’s report shows that both men and women are living with their parents for longer than they did 20 years ago, and it’s young men who are more likely to stay at home with their parents. In 2017, of men aged 18 to 34 years old, 37% lived with their parents, compared with 26% of women in the same age group.

Perhaps the biggest sign of how life has changed for this group is in the detail around overall living arrangements. In 1997, the most common arrangement for young adults was as a couple with one or more children (29% of 18 to 34 year-olds) but by 2017, there were more young adults living with their parents (32% of 18 to 34 year-olds).

During this period, the costs of both renting and buying homes have increased, and the average ages of getting married and having children have risen. These factors, combined with the rise in the number of people staying in education and not in full-time work, may be factors in encouraging young adults to remain at home.

It’s not a surprise then that the age at which people own their own home is continuing to rise. In 1997, the youngest age at which more than 50% of people were home-owners was 26, rising to 34 in 2017.

The changing face of retirement

On the workforce front, there are now fewer people under 25 in employment than 20 years ago, most notably in the 16-17 age group, where numbers are down by 50% - in part explained by greater access to tertiary education and the focus on getting a place at university. Around a third of 18 year olds now go to university although there are signs of change, with apprenticeships making a comeback.

The opposite is true of older cohorts, with those above 50 showing the greatest increase in full-time employment. Perhaps the most marked rise is in the 65 and over age group - where the figure is more than double that of 20 years ago.

Better living standards, greater wealth and higher life expectancies mean we are living longer, forcing us to work in order to fund what seems to be an ever-lengthening retirement. With young people buying property later and experiencing milestones like getting married and having children later than their parents it’s even more important to start saving for the long term early.

I talked to a couple recently who are combining their pension savings and investments with part-time work to help transition into retirement. As we remain healthier into old age, today’s young people might find the traditional model of retirement is replaced by a very similar structure of reduced work and investment income. Of course, that only works by starting the compounding effect of investing early (you can read more about the benefits of starting your retirement planning early here).

The Government's Pension Wise service offers free, impartial guidance to help you understand your options at retirement. You can access the guidance online at www.pensionwise.gov.uk or over the telephone on 0800 138 3944.

Source: ONS Labour Force Survey

Important information

The value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up, so you may get back less than you invest. Withdrawals from a pension product will not be possible until you reach age 55. This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to an authorised financial adviser.