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This research examined various possible links between housing related variables and employment, such as:

  • housing assistance (such as rent assistance or social housing) can blunt incentive to work and depress employment rates
  • soaring real house prices have inflated housing wealth levels, especially for older Australians, and could be encouraging early retirement
  • young and middle-aged Australians borrowing more in order to buy housing and dipping into their housing wealth to buffer income shocks could be associated with longer working lives in the future
  • the impact home ownership mortgages have on individuals’ incentive to work or on other employment decisions
  • intergenerational transfers (as bequests or parental cash transfers) are commonly sourced from housing wealth (directly or indirectly) and may help shape the future education and work careers of those who receive the benefit.

Key findings from the study indicate that:

  • housing assistance has little effect on employment
  • higher levels of housing wealth seem to help older ‘inactive’ owners (i.e. those not in the labour force) regain employment and help precariously employed younger homeowners secure their employment
  • rising levels of mortgage indebtedness appear to be extending working lives
  • people with a mortgage are more likely to keep working. For example, of those aged 45–54, people with a mortgage have approximately one-fifth (19%) of the chance of leaving the labour force compared to outright owners (all else being equal)
  • longer working lives will help mitigate declining rates of employment and productivity slowdown due to population ageing. However, it comes at the expense of a higher investment and repayment risk burden in later life
  • people who received of parental cash transfers or bequests have better educational qualifications, and in particular are more likely to hold a bachelor’s degree, than a control group of non-beneficiaries. They also have average bank deposit account balances that are more than double those of non-beneficiaries, and average net investment income is roughly one-third higher.
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