Home ownership falls as each generation passes

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2019 welfare report has recorded falling rates of homeownership as each generation passes, alongside growth in renters, especially among younger Australians:

While Census data provides the most comprehensive view of housing tenure among Australian households, it is limited to once every 5 years. Other survey data can be used to monitor changes in housing circumstances during non-Census periods. Survey of Income and Housing data shows that in the past 20 years to 2017–18, there has been a decline in the proportion of households owning their home without a mortgage, and increases in households with a mortgage and in private rental agreements (Figure 1).

Home ownership data from the 2016 Census show a home ownership rate of 67%, down slightly from 68% in 2011. While the home ownership rate remained around 67–70% from the mid-1960s, the rate for different age groups has varied markedly over this time. The rates among different age groups can be determined using the age of the Census household reference person. Specifically, the number of private dwellings by age of household reference person and tenure type can be used to calculate the proportion of homeowners of specific age groups from total households (excluding not stated).

The home ownership rate of 30–34 year olds was 64% in 1971, decreasing 14 percentage points to 50% in 2016, according to Census data. For Australians aged 25–29, the decrease was similar—50% in 1971, decreasing to 37% in 2016. Home ownership rates have also decreased among people nearing retirement. Since 1996, home ownership rates have gradually declined; rates for the 50–54 age group have seen a 6.6 percentage point fall over these 20 years (80% to 74%) (AIHW 2019).

To further illustrate these changes in home ownership rates, Census data can be presented by birth cohorts (Figure 2). The rate has fallen for each successive birth cohort since 1947–1951. Home ownership rates of Australians born during 1947–1951 increased from 54% in 1976 (when they were aged 25–29) to 82% 40 years later in 2016 (when they were aged 65–69). By contrast, the home ownership rate of those born during 1987–1991 was 37% in 2016 (when they were aged 25–29), 17 percentage points lower than the 1947–1951 cohort at the same age…

The proportion of households renting from private landlords has had a disproportionate impact on younger households over recent years, with a sharper increase in the proportion of young Australians renting than older Australians (Figure 3).

Nothing we don’t already know.

Unconventional Economist

Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.

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