Have patterns of living in owned dwellings, compared to rented dwellings, changed since 1985?
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By Heather Dryburgh and Michael Wendt
Between 1985 and 2006, the percentage of Canadians1 living in dwellings where someone in the household was the owner gradually increased from about 70% to 78%. Many different factors could have influenced this general increase, including the aging of the population and trends in home-ownership patterns for people at particular times when housing changes are common. For example, are Canadians moving into owned dwellings at a younger age, or are the growing number of older Canadians continuing to live in owned dwellings, rather than moving into rented homes?
Throughout the early years of adulthood – from age 20 to age 36 – there are changes in the dwelling ownership trends of Canadians over the past 20 years. Nevertheless, in early adulthood, the overall pattern is the same whether looking at 20 year olds in 1985, 1990, or 1995. For each cohort, the majority of 20 year olds lived in dwellings where someone in the household was the owner – most likely their parents. Over the next few years, as they moved out on their own, the percentage living in owned dwellings decreased for all cohorts, then began to increase again as they established their own homes.
Percentage of people living in an owned dwelling, by cohort of 20 year olds in 1985, 20 year olds in 1990 and 20 year olds in 1995
Although the overall pattern is the same, there have been some important changes in trends over the last 20 years that may be contributing to the general increase in living in owned dwellings. First, about two thirds of 20 year olds in 1985 and 1990 lived in owned dwellings, compared with only 58% of 20 year olds in 1995. This suggests that in 1995 young adults were leaving the parental home sooner. Secondly, those who were still living in owned dwellings at age 20 took longer to move into rented dwellings in each subsequent cohort. For the 1985 cohort, the percentage living in owned dwellings had bottomed out by age 23, and then started increasing again. By comparison, those in the 1990 cohort were 25 years old before they reached the lowest percentage living in owned dwellings, and the 1995 cohort was 26 years old reaching this same point.
Another trend across these cohort groups is a smaller percentage living in rented dwellings, even through their twenties. The percentage living in owned homes dipped to 37% for the 1985 cohort, but only to 44% for the 1990 cohort and 45% for the 1995 cohort. The larger number of youth living or staying in owned dwellings may be affecting the overall upward trend seen in Chart 1. An additional explanation is the earlier transition back into owned dwellings after the dip in their 20s. By age 30, 71% of the 1995 cohort lived in owned dwellings. This increase was much quicker than for the two earlier cohorts. The 1990 cohort did not reach 71% living in owned dwellings until age 34, and the 1985 cohort only reached that level by age 36.
We also see some changing trends in the later years around retirement – from age 60 to age 76. Moving into the senior years is often thought of as a time when people sell their homes and move into rented dwellings. The vast majority of 60 year olds in all three cohorts lived in owned dwellings at age 60. By their mid-sixties, for all three cohorts, there was a significant drop in living in owned dwellings, as one might expect, but then the pattern changes somewhat. For the 1985 cohort of 60 year olds, after age 67 there was a very gradual decrease in the percentage owning homes, whereas, for the 1990 and 1995 cohorts there was a subsequent increase in home ownership for seniors.
Percentage of people living in owned dwelling, by cohort of 60 years olds in 1985, 60 year olds in 1990 and 60 year olds in 1995
The data show that trends in housing decisions for youth, and for seniors, are both contributing to the overall increase in living in owned homes in Canada over the past 20 years.
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