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4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, April 2013  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 10/04/2013   
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10 April 2013
Embargoed: 11.30 am Canberra Time
Young adults hold off saying ‘I do’

The latest Australian Social Trends report, released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) uses data from the 2011 Census and the 1976 Census to paint a picture of how today's young adults (aged 18 to 34) differ from the previous generation.

ABS Director of Social and Progress Reporting Jane Griffin-Warwicke said "we've seen a large decrease in the proportion of young adults getting married. In 1976, 67 per cent of 24 year olds had been married, compared with just 14 per cent of 24 year olds in 2011.

“Young adults are also much more educated today than their counterparts from 35 years ago. In 2011, nearly twice the proportion of young adults were attending an educational institution compared with 1976.

"We also found that in 1976, only 5 per cent of young adults had a bachelor degree or higher qualification. In contrast, a quarter of young adults had a bachelor degree or higher in 2011.

"In 1976, there were also more young men than young women in higher education. However, in 2011 it was the opposite, with more young women attending an educational institution than young men.

"The proportion of young women who were employed has risen substantially. In 1976, 54 per cent of young women were employed, compared with 69 per cent in 2011," said Ms Griffin-Warwicke.

The analysis also found that part-time work was much more common in 2011 than in 1976.

"In 1976, only around one in ten employed young adults worked part-time, while in 2011 it was about one in three."

"The change is particularly apparent for men with less than one in twenty employed young men in 1976 working part time, compared with about one in four in 2011. However, those that are working full-time are often working longer hours," she said.

In 1976, 25 per cent of young adults who were working full time worked more than 40 hours a week. In 2011, 38 per cent were working more than 40 hours.

Young adults are also tending to stay longer in the family home. In 2011, 29 per cent of young adults lived with their parents compared to 21 per cent in 1976.

All AST articles are available in full online at

Media notes:
  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.

Selected characteristics, people aged 18-34 years, 1976 and 2011


Living with a partner
Living with parents
Ever married
Attending educational institution
Has bachelor degree or higher
Employed (men)
Employed (women)
Born in UK or Ireland (a)
Born in Asia (a)
No religion

(a) as a proportion of those born overseas

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