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Journal Article

The changing association between homeownership and the transition to parenthood


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The literature suggests a positive link between homeownership and transition to parenthood. However, in recent decades, the preference of couples for becoming homeowners before having their first child has been undermined by rising housing unaffordability and housing uncertainty. Britain is an archetypal example, with homeownership rates among young adults having fallen substantially as a result of low wages, unemployment, reductions in the availability of mortgage credit, and rising house prices. This has produced a housing crisis. Using longitudinal data from the British Household Panel Survey (1991–2008) and the United Kingdom Household Longitudinal Study (2009–2016), we applied multilevel discrete-time event-history techniques to a sample of women aged 18–42. We investigated whether and how the link between homeownership and entering parenthood has changed in Britain in recent decades. Our findings revealed that, in comparison to the 1990s, the likelihood of becoming a parent has declined among homeowners, while childbearing rates among private renters have remained stable. Thus, owner-occupiers and private renters have become more similar in terms of their likelihood of entering parenthood. Overall, our findings question the classical micro-level assumption of a positive link between homeownership and transition to parenthood, at least among Britain’s “Generation Rent.” These findings are subsequently interpreted in terms of increased housing uncertainty.

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Demography, Social Change, Households, Childbearing: Fertility, Life Course Analysis, Finance, and Housing Market


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