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New research project to look at housing transitions and fertility

30 June 2010

Professor Fiona Steele, in the Centre for Multilevel Modelling (CMM) at the University of Bristol's Graduate School of Education, will begin a new three-year Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) project in October that aims to advance longitudinal research on housing.

The project aims to advance longitudinal research on housing.  The three-year Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) project will begin in October 2010 and will be led by Professor Fiona Steele in the Centre for Multilevel Modelling (CMM) at the University of Bristol’s Graduate School of Education, together with Dr Michele Haynes, University of Queensland; Professor John Ermisch, University of Essex; Dr Paul Clarke, CMPO, University of Bristol and Dr Hill Kulu, University of Liverpool.   

The primary aim of the research is to examine the extent to which changes in housing tenure and residential mobility are triggered by fertility outcomes such as the birth of another child or a child reaching primary or secondary school age. 

The researchers will also consider the effects of household structure, for example comparing lone parents and couples with children, marriage and divorce and employment changes, as well as spatial and temporal variation in these relationships within Britain and cross-nationally between Britain and Australia.

Professor Fiona Steele said: “Research on the effect of family events on housing changes is of particular importance because it provides valuable information on when and where families move, and identifies changing priorities for the provision of housing assistance and policy.“

The research will use data from the British Household Panel Study (BHPS), which provides detailed housing information collected annually since 1991, to investigate and quantify the relationships between housing transitions and stages in the life-course. The cross-national comparison will be based on data from The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, which began in 2001 and has a similar design to BHPS.

While prospectively collected event history data have undoubtedly advanced our understanding of the complex interrelationships between social processes, there are a number of important methodological issues to be addressed when analysing panel data, for example:

  • housing histories have a nested structure with repeated episodes (of living in the same tenure or house) nested within individuals;
  • changes in housing and changes in fertility may be subject to shared or correlated influences, some of which are likely to be unmeasured;
  • life-course information is incomplete, for example because of events experienced before the start of data collection, attrition, and missing values on covariates.

One of the aims of the proposed research is to investigate the robustness of practical findings to changes in model specifications that adjust for these potential sources of bias.


Further information

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC's planned total expenditure in 2009/10 is £204 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes.
Please contact Joanne Fryer for further information.
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