In Brief

Why people are less likely to move home now than the 1970s

New study points to ageing population and changes to the UK housing market

Around a million fewer people moved house in England and Wales in the 2000s than in the 1970s, according to a new study by population experts.

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast used historic census data to measure the proportion of people changing addresses in different decades, both as renters and homeowners. The team found that 55% of people moved house between 1971 and 1981, compared with 45% between 2001 and 2011.

In a paper published in the journal Population, Space and Place, the academics say the decrease is mainly down to changes in the housing market, and to Britain’s ageing population.

Study co-author Dr Ian Shuttleworth explains: “One cause of the decline in migration rates in England and Wales is the changing make-up of the population.

“Some people are more mobile than others: for example, older people tend to change address less than younger people, whereas those with more education tend to move more than those who lack it.”

However, “it is not just the elderly who are not moving as much as they did in the 1970s but all age groups”, he continues. “It is not only owner-occupiers but also those in social-rented housing, and falls are not just concentrated amongst the unemployed but have also been experienced by those in work.”

The biggest reduction was in moves where people relocated to properties only six miles away or less. According to the BBC, this trend suggests that people “were less likely to be making aspirational upward moves in their local areas, or downsizing as they get older”.

Shuttleworth says this drop also indicates that “younger generations were struggling to find a house to buy within their home town”, The Times reports. 

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