Understanding Society Scientific Conference 2019 - , University of Essex

The transition to parenthood among Britain's 'generation rent': examining the changing role of housing tenure

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Day:Thu 4 Jul
  • Ann Berrington, University of Southampton

A positive link between homeownership and fertility is usually presumed. Nevertheless, couples’ preferences to become homeowners before having their first child has been undermined by the dramatic changes in the UK housing market over recent decades. In Britain in particular, home ownership rates have fallen dramatically among young adults as a result of low wages, precarious employment, reductions in the availability of mortgage credit, lack of affordable homes, and rising house prices. Using prospective longitudinal data from the eighteen wave of British Household Panel Survey (1991 to 2008) and the first seven waves of United Kingdom Household Longitudinal Survey (2009 to 2016) on a sample of women aged 18 to 42 and applying multilevel discrete time event history techniques, we investigate whether and how the link between housing tenure and timing of first births has changed over recent decades in Britain, and whether the link is moderated by local area characteristics including housing markets. We find that, in comparison to the 1990s, private renters are nowadays are more similar to those in owner occupation in terms of their likelihood of entering parenthood. By including a contextual variable on house prices, the predicted probability of conceiving a first child remains higher for homeowners compared to private tenants, but the context plays a role in shaping the propensity to childbearing. Our conclusion is that, increasingly, young people remain in insecure private rented accommodation even during the process of family formation and parenthood.