Volume 29 - Article 14 | Pages 355-378 Editor's Choice

Family dynamics and housing: Conceptual issues and empirical findings

By Clara Mulder

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Date received:17 Jul 2012
Date published:03 Sep 2013
Word count:7071
Keywords:divorce, fertility, housing, marriage, parenthood, separation


Background: In this reflection I discuss my conceptual ideas and the latest empirical findings regarding the connections between leaving the parental home, marriage, parenthood, and separation on the one hand, and housing on the other. I also discuss the limitations of the research and directions for future research.

Conclusions: Parental housing of good quality keeps specific categories of potential nest-leavers in the parental home, but is also positively associated with the likelihood of young adults starting their housing careers as homeowners. The connections between housing and marriage and between housing and parenthood can be characterized using the concepts of housing space, quality, and safety or security – all three of which married couples and families need more than singles – and flexibility, which couples and families need less. These four needs are strongly subject to social norms. There is a strong tendency for married couples and prospective families to move into home ownership and higher quality homes. Separation tends to lead ex-partners with lower moving costs and fewer resources to move from the joint home, and tends to lead to a longer lasting decrease in housing quality, particularly for women. Future research could focus on the impact of housing on the transformation of dating partnerships into co-residential partnerships, the impact of housing quality and home ownership on the quality of partner relationships, partnership and housing histories rather than single events and short-term effects, unraveling the causal connections between family and housing, and incorporating the impact of the socio-spatial context in the research.

Author's Affiliation

Clara Mulder - University of Groningen, Faculty of Spatial Sciences, Population Research Centre, Netherlands [Email]

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

» Geographical distances between adult children and their parents in the Netherlands
Volume 17 - Article 22

» Population and housing: A two-sided relationship
Volume 15 - Article 13

» A comparative analysis of leaving home in the United States, the Netherlands and West Germany
Volume 7 - Article 17

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