Literature review


This literature review describes the social and economic associations of various forms of housing tenure, mainly homeownership and renting and analyses over a hundred and twenty international studies, focusing on the effects of housing tenure on health, employment, crime, welfare, wealth and education. 

The objective of the review was to explore the research evidence through the literature and describe the findings. The research question was: What does the research evidence demonstrate about the health, employment, crime, welfare, wealth and educational impacts of housing tenure differences? The purpose was to provide research evidence for applied policy development. It does not attempt to add to the literature beyond the research question or rigorously critique it as a pure academic research article might. Because of its applied purpose, the review was limited to those domains that directly reflect fiscal costs, rather than studies that demonstrate other social benefits like social capital, social cohesion, neighbouring and social stability, for example.

This report reviews the literature under the following headings: Health; Employment; Crime; Welfare; Wealth; Education; Discussion and References.

The positive effects of parental homeownership on children’s educational attainment have been demonstrated in the literature through a range of different measures and studies. However, not all studies replicate the same positive effects, with a smaller number showing no significant differences. Where significant effects occurred, they related to school graduation, post-secondary education, specific subject areas, length of time at school and fewer behavioural problems. The positive effects of homeownership were also demonstrated for children of single mothers and children in poor and distressed neighbourhoods. The variables the studies controlled for are noted in the text above. No studies were found that demonstrated negative effects of homeownership on the educational attainment of children. 

On balance, the research suggests housing tenure is a significant factor for positive social and economic outcomes. Homeownership is often significantly associated with positive health, crime, and educational outcomes in studies, usually after controlling for a range of variables including socioeconomic status and income. A small number of other studies further suggest it is beneficial for wealth creation and not receiving a welfare benefit. The labour market results for decreased unemployment are not as strong, but point in a similar direction. 


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