New paper: The unequal geography of declining young adult homeownership: Divides across age, class, and space

New paper published in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers with Rowan Arundel. The paper is open access and can be read here.


Across countries, the position of young adults on the housing market has worsened over the past decade. Young adults’ decreasing access to homeownership has garnered particular attention. Most studies analysing young adults’ housing market entry focus on micro-level determinants or national-level patterns and trends. This paper adds an important perspective by focusing on spatial variations within a single country, unravelling pronounced inter-municipal differences in homeownership across age and class. Our case is the Netherlands, where we use full-population register data for the 2011–2018 period to analyse spatial patterns and trends using a range of quantitative spatial methods. Our findings highlight a notable decrease in owner-occupancy among young adults in the Netherlands over the period. Such overall declines, however, belie clear class divisions, with decreases particularly concentrated among low-income young adults. Untangling spatial dynamics reveals both important geographic commonalities and clear divergences. Declining young homeownership was found across 87% of municipalities, suggesting a common experience. Analyses also reveal stark spatial disparities, with the strongest decreases in the most urbanised regions, particularly large cities. Spatially divergent patterns of housing market exclusion are furthermore highly classed: widespread among young adults with a low income, while more spatially concentrated among those with a high income. Finally, using advanced spatial regression modelling, we explore municipal characteristics, revealing how local housing and population factors may explain pronounced differences in changing young adult homeownership entry. The analyses particularly emphasise links between housing unaffordability and competition as determinants of worsening homeownership opportunities for young adults.