More than two-thirds of 20-year-olds still live at home, with the housing crisis seen as a likely factor amid concerns among the age group over their access to the housing market.
The latest key findings from the Growing Up in Ireland study, published today, also highlights a jump in the percentage of people who are overweight or obese aged 20, compared to the level among the group when they were at secondary school.
The longitudinal study, which analysed information from 5,191 people aged 20 and interviewed between August 2018 and June this year, found that 36% were overweight or obese, compared with 27% at age 17/18. In addition, the obesity rate for young women was almost double that of young men —16% versus 9%. Levels of physical inactivity were also higher for young women.
Almost all young adults drank alcohol (93%) and nearly one-quarter of 20-year-olds used cannabis occasionally or more often, while around one-quarter of 20-year-olds experienced relatively high levels of stress and depressive symptoms — again more common among young women.
According to the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), which publishes the data: “Nearly seven out of 10 20-year-olds were in further or higher education or training at 20 and the vast majority (87%) had taken a course since leaving second-level school.”
However, one of the study’s authors, Prof Dorothy Watson, said while the percentage of those ‘not in education, training or employment’ (NEET) was low, early school leavers were more likely to be among that group, at 32%. It also found that those from the lowest-skilled social classes achieved fewer Leaving Certificate points, on average, than those from professional backgrounds.
Prof Watson said while it was not surprising that most 20-year-olds would still be living at home, the figure may have been lower were it not for the housing crisis.
She said this was illustrated by access to housing as the issue causing most concern to those interviewed, even ahead of climate change.
Prof Watson also noted the jump in overweight and obesity levels among 20-year-olds, even though many are still living with their parents and, in the majority of cases, still depending on them financially, especially for basic living expenses.
She said this may indicate they had more control over their food choices and were less active, meaning they could be a more “vulnerable” group with regard to possible future health concerns.
The study also found that one in four 20-year-olds in Ireland show high-level signs of depression.
The issue is more common among women than men.