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Policy Brief

Changing Partnership Patterns, Housing and New Social Vulnerabilities

Key Messages:

  • Increasing divorce and separation rates have major implications for current and future levels of housing inequality, patterns of social stratification and opportunities for spatial mobility.
  • Prolonged residential instability after separation could lead to instability for individuals in other life domains (e.g. psychological wellbeing, children’s schooling, access to friendship networks, post-separation socio-economic status).
  • National variation in social norms, welfare state traditions, family policies, mortgage systems and housing markets shape and constrain individuals’ opportunities to access suitable housing after separation, and to ‘recover’ their position on the housing market.
  • National housing markets need to adapt to changing partnership and family patterns. The increase in the levels of divorce and separation implies that there is a growing need for smaller and more affordable housing units of good quality on both the rental and the homeownership markets.