Lowest-low Fertility and Home-ownership Regimes

Clara H. Mulder, University of Amsterdam
Francesco C. Billari, Università Bocconi

It has been suggested that difficult housing-market entry contributes to delayed family formation and lowest-low fertility in Southern European countries. We take up this idea and investigate to what extent there is an association between the level of fertility and the organization of home-ownership in western countries. We distinguish four home-ownership regimes, based on the share of owner-occupied housing and access to mortgages. We argue that one home-ownership regime is particularly associated with difficult housing-market entry and, therefore, unfriendly to family formation: the regime combining a high share of owner-occupation and difficult access to mortgages. In this regime, access to home-ownership is difficult because it depends on personal savings, family help or inheritance. At the same time, the rental sector hardly forms a suitable alternative for prospective families. Indeed, we find that lowest-low fertility is mainly found in countries with this particular home-ownership regime.

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Presented in Session 43: Low fertility in Europe