Children and Young Adults

Why has poverty risen so much for young adults?

  • Published 26th Feb 2015
  • Authors: Hannah Aldridge,
  • Category: Children and Young Adults

In the last decade, poverty among 19-25 year olds rose twice as much as any other age group. This report considers whether demographic, work, and housing changes can explain this increase.

Key points

 29% of young adults (aged 19-25) were in poverty in the three years to 2012/13. This is 6 percentage points higher than a decade earlier – the biggest increase of any age group.

 The proportion of young adults in households where all adults work has decreased in the last decade and the proportion in households with only some or no adults in work increased – this accounts for about two thirds of the increase in the poverty rate among young adults.

 Working-age adults as a whole did not see the same degree of change in working patterns which is why their poverty rate did not increase to the same extent; it grew by 2.5 percentage points.

 The poverty rate for young adults in working households also increased and the rate for those in workless households decreased.

 Some of the increase in the poverty rate among those in working households was due to the higher proportion living in private rented housing. But the poverty rate among young adults that work and rent also increased.

 The increase in young adult poverty cannot be explained by a change in the proportion of young adults living with their parents or the proportion who themselves are parents.

 Less than a fifth of young adults are students and not working. This is higher than a decade earlier, but the growth in students only explains a small part of the changing poverty rate among young adults – the poverty rate among other young adults increased just as much.