A new look at the housing consequences of partnership dissolution

Publication type

Conference Paper


Understanding Society Scientific Conference 2017, 11-13 July 2017, University of Essex, Colchester, UK


Publication date

July 13, 2017


Family instability and partnership dissolution often have adverse consequences for housing careers. However, most research on the housing impacts of separation concentrates on the gendered experiences of home owning couples who split up during the late twentieth century expansion of owner-occupation. As the private rental sector has grown rapidly in recent years as access to homeownership and social housing have become more constrained, it is becoming increasingly critical to know more about how people living in all tenures adjust their housing circumstances following partnership dissolution. To do this we use georeferenced data from Understanding Society to examine how and why the short-term housing impacts of separation vary by gender, parenthood status, prior tenure and across housing market areas. Preliminary transition matrices show that men are much more likely than women to exit social tenancies for private renting across dissolutions (25% men, 8% women). Men are also considerably more likely to move from any tenure to live in the parental home or shared accommodation after separation (13% men, 7% women). Initial multinomial logistic regression models suggest that these patterns are largely due to post-separation child custody arrangements, as well as the gendering of prior housing contract status in certain tenures. Interestingly, we find very little geographical variation in the housing impacts of separation. We conclude by using our ongoing analyses to reflect on how recent housing trends are interacting with the welfare system to reconfigure the gendered economic and experiential housing aftermath of partnership dissolution.






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