London (Agencies): A new study has revealed that young people take six years longer to grow up than they used to.

They finish their education, start work, marry, have children and are financially independent later than ever, the study has divulged.

In 1981, the average age at which they gained full independence was 22 for women and 24 for men. But by 2001 this had risen to 28 and 30, a 20-year study by researchers in Spain and Brazil found.

Study co-author Pau Miret Gamundi was quoted by a daily as saying, "Our results show there has been a significant change."

In the UK, soaring property prices and banks' demands for high deposits mean first-time buyers take their first steps on to the housing ladder at the average age of 37, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

And figures from Office for National Statistics show couples marry later. The average age of a first-time bride was 30 last year, compared with 22.5 in 1966 and 25.5 in 1991

Couples also delay starting a family. The average woman is 29.3 years old when she gives birth for the first time, the highest level since records began in 1938.