My house or our home? Entry into sole homeownership in British couples

Publication type

Research Paper

Series Number



DemoSoc Working Papers


Publication date

July 15, 2015


It is mostly assumed that both partners in couples own their homes jointly. We challenge this assumption and examine the individual ownership configurations within couples in Britain. We argue that the individual legal status as an owner will determine to what degree individuals can benefit from homeownership. Two research questions are addressed: (1) How frequent is homeownership by only one partner, i.e. sole homeownership, in British couples? (2) Which factors are associated with the entry into sole homeownership? Using longitudinal data from the British Household Panel Survey (1992-2008) and the UK Household Longitudinal Study (2010-2011), we apply (multinomial) logistic regression and discrete- time event history analyses. We find that in 13% of unions in owner-occupancy one partner solely owns the home. Many individuals enter sole homeownership through residential stability at union formation by remaining an owner of a pre-union home. A substantial share of partnered individuals enters sole homeownership at later times during their unions. Overall, entries into sole homeownership are more likely with more economic resources, with step children living in the home and for cohabitants. Within unions, the chances to enter into sole homeownership are reduced with longer union durations. Sole homeownership is partly an outcome of demographic processes such as increased union instability and more frequent cohabitation. In turn, sole homeownership may also impinge on these processes. For instance, sole homeownership may increase the risk of union dissolution compared to joint homeownership. This is one avenue for future research.



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