Fewer people moving home, says population study

There has been a gradual decline in people moving home according to new research that is now published in the journal Population, Space and Place.

The new study reveals that around 1 million fewer people in England and Wales moved home in the 2000s compared with the 1970s.

moving home - arty colourful city homes pixabay-3349138.jpgThe gradual decline in people moving home is not confined to Britain. Image: pixabay-3349138

“There has been a decade-on-decade decrease in people moving home,” says lead author Dr. Ian Shuttleworth, from the School of Natural and Built Environment at Queen’s University Belfast, in the United Kingdom.

Census data

Using census data, he and his colleagues measured the percentage of people who changed their address.

They found that this was 55 percent during 1971-1981, and fell to 45 percent during 2001 and 2011.

The drop was most pronounced in people moving home locally – that is under 10 kilometers (6.3 miles), across all sectors.

Social rented housing showed the same decline as owner-occupied housing, and numbers fell among those in work to the same extent as among the unemployed.

Aging population only ‘one third’ of effect

Some might argue that it is no surprise that fewer people are moving home in Britain, given that the population is aging.

However, the team found that an aging population only explained around one third of the effect.

Changes in attitude and in the housing market were also factors.

One factor is that “people now just move less,” states Dr. Shuttleworth. Commenting on the “short-distance moving,” he notes that this has usually been for “housing reasons.”

He adds that there is evidence of a “shortage of housing stock” in the U.K. and that this, together with “price pressures,” may have encouraged people to stay put.

Global pattern

He and his colleagues also found that the decline is not confined to Britain.

They also studied six other countries: Australia, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden, and the United States.

Of these, only Sweden saw a rise in people moving home.

The gradual decline in migration seen in the past few decades in the U.K. and these other countries may reflect some “more general factors,” says Dr. Shuttleworth.

Their analysis suggests that these might include: “extended lives”; people living longer with their parents; workers commuting longer distances instead of moving home to be nearer the workplace; improved transportation; and advances in communication technology.

Different effects in different countries

Speculating on the global economic implications, Dr. Shuttleworth suggests that the slowdown will have social and labour market effects.

For example, a decline in long-distance house moves might impact productivity and regional labour market ability to absorb shocks in the U.S. and Australia.

“This is less likely to be the case in England and Wales,” he concludes, “as inter-regional moves have not dropped as much but the big decline in shorter-distance moves here may have implications for neighbourhood cohesion and social mobility.”