On the determinants of living arrangements in Western Europe: Does Cultural Origin Matter?
Why are there such large differences in living arrangements across Western European countries? Conventional economic analyses have not been successful in explaining differences in living arrangements and particularly the dramatic increase in the fraction of young adults living with their parents in Mediterranean Europe. This paper offers an explanation for this phenomenon and also shows a number of surprising facts that strongly support that explanation. This paper proposes an interpretation based on the interaction of a cultural identity, reflected in different family types, with an exogenous shock --the sexual revolution. Such an explanation can easily explain both the shift in living arrangements over time and also observed North-South differentials. It receives support from data on the living arrangements of second-generation immigrants in the US. Both in 1970 and 2000, by country of origin, the US living arrangements of second-generation immigrants mimic those in Europe across countries; similarly the changes in the US across time by country of origin mimic the European changes. This duplication of the European pattern in a neutral environment, with the same unemployment benefits, the same welfare code and the same macroeconomic conditions suggests a major role in determining living arrangements for what is common between the immigrants and their mother-country counterpart, i.e. a shock that affected immigrants and their European counterparts similarly
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