The decline of a homeowning society? Asset-based welfare, retirement and intergenerational equity in Australia

Adam Stebbing*, Ben Spies-Butcher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Researchers have increasingly recognised a link between homeownership levels and retirement policy, particularly in English-speaking welfare states. Housing is central to asset-based welfare policies, which may enable households to efficiently manage life course risks, but may exacerbate wealth inequality and expose them to market volatility. Australia presents an important case for understanding the dynamics of asset-based welfare, with its retirement approach combining high homeownership rates and a limited public pension. This paper investigates emerging generational differences in homeownership in Australia. Recent research has identified declining homeownership amongst younger cohorts. Using cross-sectional data, we explore alternative theoretical explanations for this trend. We find no evidence that declining homeownership reflects changing investment choices or delayed family formation. Instead, recent trends are consistent with intensifying inequalities based on class and care responsibilities. This casts doubt on the viability of Australia as a homeownership society and asset-based retirement policies in a financialised economy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-207
Number of pages18
JournalHousing Studies
Volume31
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2016

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