While there has been growing interest in the intergenerational transmission of domestic property over recent years—and specifically housing inheritance—the line of descent in this transmission has been ignored. We do not know whether domestic property goes disproportionately to the next generation(s) of men, or to the women, or equally to men and women as the Western bilateral system of descent would dictate.
Using published empirical research and data from a sample of Brisbane households, this paper tests an argument proffered by two European sociologists, Delphy and Leonard. They maintain that domestic property goes disproportionately to the next generation(s) of men because of the power of patriarchy. However, the Brisbane data showed that domestic property went roughly equally to the next generations of men and women, suggesting the presence of a bilateral system of descent. Conceptual and theoretical implications arising from this finding, relative to Delphy and Leonard's claim, are examined in the last part of the paper.