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Project overview


Housing has shot up the political agenda over the last few years, with the difficulty of becoming a homeowner attracting particular attention. The rapid growth of the private rental sector and falling rates of owner-occupation, most notably amongst young adults, have triggered heated debates about social mobility and the instability of young people's family, employment and housing circumstances.

Although there is good evidence that financial constraints and job insecurity are leading young people to postpone becoming homeowners, much less is known about the impacts of demographic change. Long-term changes in family structures, for example towards higher rates of partnership dissolution or the growing popularity of living alone, have the potential to strongly affect young people's housing tenure attainments. Furthermore rising house prices, credit constraints and greater indebtedness may increase the importance that family resources play in young people's housing tenure transitions. The central aim of this project is therefore:

"To understand (a) how families influence the nature and timing of young adults' housing tenure transitions and (b) how these effects have changed over time".



This aim will be met by conducting three linked strands of research:

  1. Examining how young adults' housing tenure attainments are linked to their family backgrounds and the domestic living arrangements they move through over time.
  2. Investigating whether the links between family circumstances and young adults' housing tenure attainments have become stronger or weaker over the last four decades.
  3. Comparing how family factors affect young people's housing tenure attainments in Britain with trends in Western countries with different housing and welfare systems (principally the United States, Australia and Germany)

These aims will be met through quantitative analysis of multiple longitudinal datasets; in particular the Office for National Statistics Longitudinal Study of England and Wales,  the British Household Panel Survey and the United Kingdom Household Longitudinal Study.


Further details

This project is funded by an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) grant awarded to Rory Coulter through the Future Research Leaders scheme. Co-funding for the project has been generously provided by the Isaac Newton Trust. The project runs from November 2014 until October 2017.

General enquiries about the project as well as offers of collaboration are very welcome. These can be submitted through the contact form at the base of the page, or by emailing