The dynamics of home-ownership among the 50+ in Europe

We use life history data covering households in 13 European countries to analyse residential moves past the age of 50. We observe four types of moves: renting to owning, owning to renting, trading up or trading down for homeowners. We find that in the younger group (aged 50–64), trading up and purchase decisions prevail; in the older group (65+), trading down and selling are more common. Overall, moves are rare, particularly in countries characterised by high transaction costs. Most moves are driven by changes in household composition (divorce, widowhood, nest leaving by children), but economic factors play a role: low-income households who are house-rich and cash-poor are more likely to sell their home late in life.

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