Home leaving trajectories in Canada: exploring cultural and gendered dimensions

Ellen M. Gee, Barbara A. Mitchell, Andrew V. Wister

Abstract


In this exploratory study, we profile variations in home leaving, home returning, and home staying behaviour among four ethnocultural groups in Canada - British, Chinese, Indian, and South European. Data collected in a 1999-2000 survey of 1,907 young adults (ages 19-35) residing in the Vancouver area are used. Our principal foci are ethnocultural and gendered aspects of home leaving trajectories, specifically: ages at home leaving and returning, and reasons for home leaving, home returning and home staying. Special attention is paid to returners/boomerangers, given an increasing overall trend in home returning in Canada. We find that: (a) both ethnocultural origin and gender are important determinants of home leaving trajectory, (b) there is a distinct (but far from tidy) difference between European-origin and Asian-origin groups in home leaving trajectory, (c) British-Canadians leave home at the youngest ages and Indo-Canadians at the oldest ages, (d) the main reason for home leaving is
independence for British-Canadians; schooling for Chinese-Canadians, and
marriage for Indo-Canadians, (e) among all four groups, home returners leave
home initially at younger ages and, with the exception of Indo-Canadian young men, who typically leave home for school, and (f) gender differences in home
leaving trajectory are larger among the Chinese and Indo-Canadians than among persons of European origins. Overall, we conclude that the theorized trend of the individualized family life course holds for only some ethnocultural groups in Canada. We conclude with suggestions for future research directions on the topic of ethnicity and the home leaving life course transitions.

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