Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Professor J. Synge


This thesis extends social and cultural reproduction theory in order to provide a theoretical and empirical analysis of the home leaving behaviour of a national sample of Canadian youths (n=2,033) aged 15 to 24 from the 1987 Canadian Youth Foundation Survey (CYFS). The average age among youths who have left home is found to be 18.4. Of those who do leave home between the ages of 15 and 24, only about 27.3 percent leave home between the ages of 20 and 24. It is argued that the availability of family resources (both material and nonmaterial), as well as gender and regional and economic factors, influence decisions related to this important transition. Bivariate and logistic regression analyses of reasons for staying at home and pathways out of the parental home, and proportional hazards modelling of age at home-leaving, are conducted. A key finding demonstrates the importance of family structure (a form of "social capital") to the timing of home-leaving and the choice of pathways out of the parental home. The implications of financial, human, and cultural capital, as well as sex and region, are also examined. The most striking finding is that, at each age between 15 and 24, youths living in two-parent biological families and in lone-parent families are between five and six times more likely to remain at home than are those exposed to stepfamilies, controlling for all of the other variables. Interestingly, young adults living in both stepparent and lone-parent families are more likely to report leaving home because of conflict in parent-child relationships, and are also more likely to leave the nest in order to achieve independence, rather than to marry or to pursue further education. The findings are discussed in terms of their immediate and long-term impact on youths. Implications for social services and counselling are considered, and an agenda for future research is suggested.

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