Housing Dreams of Young Families – Determinants and Reasons for Moving into a Family Home across Social Classes

Stefanie Kley, University of Hamburg
Anna Stenpaß, University of Hamburg

It is a robust finding that changes to family composition, such as partnership formation, marriage, and childbirth, are associated with residential mobility as well as first-time home-ownership. This literature suggests that moves are undertaken to meet (anticipated) needs for more housing space and to fulfil a desire for a child-friendly environment. A proper family home is for many a self-owned house with a private garden in a residential area, reflecting a widespread belief that children should grow up in quiet surroundings and not within the hustle and bustle of city centres. This article asks the questions (1) for which young families the dream of moving into a “family home” comes true, and (2) whether the determinants and reasons for moving vary systematically between social classes.

The analyses are based on representative household data of the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (GSOEP, 2000 – 2014). The probability of moving into a house for one or two families is estimated longitudinally and in comparison between social classes. Additionally, the findings are enriched with findings from in-depth interviews with long commuters.

The results show that social class matters for moving into a family home. Home-ownership and having children are the most important triggers for moving into a family home in all social classes, but other reasons for moving vary. Overcoming a bad location and high costs of the current dwelling are important for both the low and middle classes, but middle class members report improvements of the dwelling and area significantly more often compared to low class members. Moving into a family home worsens the transport link in middle and high classes, and the average commute increases markedly in all social classes, especially in the lower class.

The findings shed light on an under-researched dimension of social inequality between families and the commuting workforce.

Presented in Session 68: Internal Migration and Family Dynamics