Housing and Happiness: Housing Influences on Older People’s Wellbeing in UK

Michael Murphy , London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

Older people spend a high fraction of their time in their homes so housing might be expected to influence their wellbeing. We analyse one of the four key national wellbeing indices, happiness, among people aged 65 and over by type of housing and socio-demographic factors using the 2016-18 Annual Population Survey (N=107 thousand). The main variables used are housing tenure (owners, public and private sector renters), demographic variable (marital status); and socioeconomic status (highest educational level). Owners report about 6% higher level of happiness than renters with only a slight reduction in the difference with older age. This difference is greater than those by educational level, where the intermediate level group reports slightly higher average levels than those with higher or lower levels. Differentials between owners and renters remain unchanged after controlling for educational status. Marital status varies between tenure groups, with higher proportions married in the owner-occupied sector, and divorced/separated in the public rented sector. Standardising for marital status reduces the tenure differential by about half, but housing tenure remains a strong effect on wellbeing. Physical housing characteristics and local environment have only minor contributions of wellbeing as compared with housing tenure. We discuss: • mechanisms, especially partnership breakdown, that account for part of the overall differentials • the implications of recent considerable reductions in entry to home ownership for older people’s housing options in decades to come • appropriate methods for analysing such processes • further developments

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 Presented in Session 49. Health and Quality of Life of Older People