London may feel like a city for youth but data on population flows shows that those in their late teens and early 20s are the most likely to be leaving the capital. And the biggest age group coming into the city is people in their late 20s and early 30s.
In 2011 there were 173,000 30 year-olds in London but only 92,000 16-year-olds. And data on internal migration flows in the UK shows that in 2014 the peak age for leaving the capital was 19-20 (the light red line in the chart below) and for moving in was 25-26 (the dark red line).
Much of this can be explained by the education and jobs cycle. A large number of people may be leaving London to go to university and an equally large number of young professional are coming to the city to work.
But longer term, the population age profile is skewing away from young adults. The population is due to grow by 1 million between 2011 and 2021 but in the same period the numbers aged 18-26 are forecast to drop by 65,000 and its 20-21 year olds where the fall is biggest – a 10% decline.
Those arriving in the capital to pursue their career face the headache of finding somewhere affordable to live. In the boom years of the 90s this groups was twice as likely to buy their own home as they are now. In 1990 57% of 25-30 year-olds in the capital owned their own home. By last year it was down to 26%.
And the change for those in their early 20s is even more telling. A quarter of 16-24 year-old Londoners owned their own home in 1990. In 2014 it was just 6%. As our chart also shows, the only age group were the rate of property ownership is growing is the over 65s. For young people home ownership has collapsed.
Those in their early 20s who stay in London and those in their late 20s who return, have one thing in common – increasingly they are living with mum and dad. Almost a quarter of those aged 20-34 were doing so last year. Back around the millennium it was just 17%.