This study offers a new approach to off‐time transitions and applies it to the link between leaving and returning home.
It is no longer uncommon for young adults to return after having left the parental home. Previous research has mostly examined returning home in isolation from leaving home, although these two transitions are closely intertwined.
Using longitudinal data from the German Socio‐Economic Panel Study, the authors examine the link between leaving and returning home in a two‐step model. The model captures home leaving in a selection model and links off‐time leaving to the subsequent risk of returning home. This measure of off‐time leaving is sensitive to specific individual circumstances.
The findings show that the new measure of off‐time leaving is a better predictor for returning home than age at leaving home. Young adults who leave home more off‐time are more likely to return home. Experiences after leaving home significantly mediate part, but not all of the effect of off‐time home leaving on returning home.
The processes of leaving and returning home are linked: Off‐time time home leavers are more likely to return home than on‐time leavers.
The findings contribute to research on returning home and the life course by demonstrating the importance of previous transitions. The new measure of off‐time transitions could also be applied to other life course outcomes.