Aussies delaying having children due to high house prices

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AUSTRALIAN homeowners are more likely than renters to want and to have more children in today’s increasingly unaffordable property market.

New research by economists at the University of Sydney found a link between Australian’s plans for children and property prices, with those already owning having intentions to and having more children, while renters with children are less likely to plan for more children as prices increase.

“While there has been significant debate about appropriate policy settings in light of rapidly increasing house prices and its impact on home ownership, there has been little discussion of the implication of housing market developments on people’s decisions to have children,” said Stephen Whelan, associate professor and lead author of the study.

With property prices up more than 20% over the previous two years, the results of the study which analysed data from 2001 to 2018 are expected to be even more pronounced.

“This research indicates that rapidly increasing house prices are associated with changes in both outcomes and intentions about whether to have children,” said Whelan.

The study revealed an increase in housing wealth of $100,000 corresponds with an 18% increase in the probability of having a child, with marriage mortgage holders perhaps unsurprisingly the most likely to have children.

“Housing constitutes a major cost of raising a child so, as the cost of housing increases, having children in Australia has become more expensive,” added Whelan.

At the same time renters, who are typically found to be less financially secure than their home owning equivalents, were found to be more likely to delay having children as house prices quickly mount.

It was also found, though with more limited evidence, that increasing house prices may reduce female renters intentions to have children or more children at all.

The study argues that policy concerning population growth, with pro-natalist policies often including income transfers, tax concessions for families, childcare subsidisation and parental leave, should also include a greater emphasis on dwelling costs.

If looking to offset an ageing population, policy makers must address housing affordability with these factors being found to directly implicate fertility decisions and outcomes.

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