Northern Economist 2.0

Friday, 4 August 2017

Living With Mom and Dad in Ontario: North & South 2016 Census Results

Statistics Canada released its 2016 Families, Households andMarital Status Results for the 2016 Census on August 2nd and the results show that proportionally fewer households are composed of a 'mom, dad and kids' family and more people are either living alone, or as part of a couple without children, or as part of a multi-generational family. However, the other interesting result was that the proportion of adults aged 20 to 34 living with parents was 34.7 percent and has been increasing since 2001 when it was 30.6 percent.  It is both a northern and southern Ontario phenomenon.

For Ontario as a whole, 42.1 percent of young adults aged 20-34 are living with parents.  However, in northern Ontario, the major centers are all below this proportion as Figure 1 illustrates. They range from a low of 26.6 percent for Timmins to a high of 36 percent in Kenora.  Figure 2 provides a somewhat more detailed comparison by including a number of southern Ontario centers. The proportion of young adults living at home in these centers ranges from a low of 27.5 in Kingston to a high of 47.4 in Toronto.  Needless to say, the GTA centers of Barrie and Hamilton also have high proportions though so does Windsor.


Given that unemployment rates are quite low and employment growth is occurring in Canada, it is inevitable that the cost of housing is going to be singled out as one of the factors driving the tendency for young adults to remain at home – even if they have jobs.  Figure 3 obtained Median Dwelling Values in 2016 from the 2016 BMA Municipal Study.  While we often focus on the average sale price of a home, the median value is also interesting as it is not as skewed by extreme values.  With the median, you know that 50 percent of homes are valued above the median and 50 percent are below. 

The median residential dwelling value in 2016 in Ontario was $266,261 according to the BMA meaning half of dwellings in Ontario were value at below this and half above.   In the northern Ontario cities, the range was from a low of $95,277 in Elliot Lake to a high of $237,225 in Sudbury.  In the selected southern Ontario centers, the range was from $139,469 in Windsor to a high of $447,253 in Toronto.  A quick look shows that median values in southern Ontario are generally higher than in northern Ontario.


So, is there some relationship between higher housing costs – as measured by median dwelling values – and the proportion of young adults continuing to live at home?  Figure 4 suggests the answer is yes.  Sure, it does not control for other factors such as employment opportunities or perhaps social and cultural factors but there still is a correlation.  Moreover, the result is driven largely by southern Ontario centers as a separate plot done for the northern cities alone found a much weaker positive correlation.  

So, what use can we make of this?  Well, if you are parents in the GTA who are tired of the big city grind and having your adult children live at home, I guess you could sell your expensive house and move to Elliot Lake.  There you could buy a nice house or yourself and separate ones for your children if they so desire and with the remaining money buy a nice annuity that would provide tidy incomes for you and your children for a very long time.  Is that so bad?