WS4 — Young people: tenure choices and welfare


Homeownership has become the ‘tenure of choice’ within UK housing policy, and is an important element in the shift from collective (publically provided) to asset-based (privately funded) welfare. However, the increasing burden of student debt, the precarious nature of youth labour markets, and the current restrictions on accessing mortgage finance, means getting and staying on the housing ladder is not an achievable or realistic goal for many young people.

ws4 500

Research also shows that young people are not all the same; there is an emerging socio-economic divide between those who have access to parental financial support to help with buying their first house, and those who do not. In turn, homeownership (or the lack of it) has implications for the ability of young people to secure their future welfare via housing assets.

This qualitative study aims to explore the attitudes and behaviour of young people surrounding inter-generational transfers of housing wealth. It looks at the expectations of young people to receive support from their family (parents/grandparents), and how family support (or the lack of it) in turn shapes their housing pathways.

The study will comprise of two phases.  First, online focus groups will be held with young people aged 18-35 across the UK. Online methods will help overcome the traditional time and spatial constraints of qualitative research, as well as to use a research medium that is attractive to young people. Furthermore, the application of online focus groups contributes to methodological innovation in the social sciences. Two focus groups across 10 local authority case study sites are planned, for housing markets and tenure structures vary across the UK.   In order to overcome potential digital exclusion, telephone interviews will be offered to those young people who do not have ready Internet access.

Second, expert interviews will be held with stakeholders involved in policy and practice with regards to housing and young people.  This will include for example, think-tanks, charitable and campaigning organisations, and representatives from UK and devolved governments.


Moore, T. and McKee, K. Deconstructing Generation Rent: a one day seminar, Friday 13th February 2015, University of Sheffield, funded by the Housing Studies Association.


Soaita, A.M., Searle, B.A., McKee, K., Moore, T. (2016). Becoming a landlord: strategies of property-based welfare in the private rental sector in Great Britain. Housing Studies. Early View DOI:10.1080/02673037.2016.1228855.

Hoolachan, J.; McKee, K.; Moore, T. and Soaita, A. (Online Early) ‘‘Generation Rent’ and the Ability to Settle Down: economic and geographical variation in young people’s housing transitions’, Journal of Youth Studies, DOI:10.1080/13676261.2016.1184241.

Moore, T.; McKee, K. & McLoughlin, P. (2015) ‘ Online focus groups and qualitative research in the social sciences: their merits and limitations in a study of housing and youthPeople Place and Policy Online 9 (1): 17-28. Available online. pdf.

Moore, T. (2013) ‘Where are young people living? Understanding the housing options of 18-35-year-olds in the UK’, Wealth Gap Briefing Paper Series. Available online.

McKee, K. (2012) “Young People, Homeownership and Future Welfare” (Policy Review), Housing Studies 27 (6): 853-862 DOI:10.1080/02673037.2012.714463

Blogs and News Comments:

McKee, K. (2014) Rising Rents and Falling Standards Bring Misery, The National, 16/12/2014, p1-3

McKee, K. and Moore, T. (2014) Problematising Generation Rent, Critical Urbanist’s Blog

McKee, K. (2014) ‘Homes or Houses?’ Shelter Scotland,

Wealth Gap Briefings:

Briefing No 5: Where are young people living? (pdf), December 2013

Briefing No 6: Young People, Homeownership and the Fallacy of Choice (pdf), May 2015

McKee, K. (2015) Research Design WS5 (pdf), August 2015


McKee, K. and Hoolachan, J. (2015) ‘Generation Rent’ and the Ability to Settle Down: economic and geographical variation in a Scottish context, invited seminar presented to the Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences research group, James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen, 29th October 2015.

McKee, K. (2015) Housing in Hard Times: what are the implications for social landlords?, keynote speaker Senior Officer’s Event organised by EVH/SFHA/ALACHO/CIHS, Westerwood Hotel, 1 October 2015

McKee, K. (2015) Generation Rent and the Fallacy of Choice, paper presented at CPC/CHR workshop on UK Population Change and Housing after the Lifecourse, University of St Andrews, 16 June 2015.

McKee, K. (2012) Do Young People really have a Tenure ‘Choice’? Paper presented at the St Andrew’s Symposium on Facing the Challenges to Housing Scotland’s People, University of St Andrews, February 2012.

Slides are available here.

McKee, K. (2012) Young People, Tenure ‘Choice’ and New Patterns of Inequality. Paper presented at the Housing Studies Association annual conference, University of York, April 2012.

Slides are available here.

WS Members:

Dr Kim McKee (CI)
Dr Adriana Soaita (Research Fellow)

Former Members

Dr Pauline McLoughlin (Research Manager, Lighthouse Institute, Australia)
Dr Tom Moore (Impact Officer, Sheffield Urban Institute)


WS Institutions:

Leave A Comment