A new study has suggested that rapid growth of the housing market can influence both outcomes and intentions of families to have more children.
The research, led by University of Sydney economists and published in the Journal of Housing Economics, measured people’s intentions for more children against property prices.
It found that when the property market booms, Australian renters are far less likely to want and have more children, while mortgagers are more encouraged to have children.
“While there has been significant debate about appropriate policy settings in light of rapidly increasing house prices and its impact on homeownership, there has been little discussion of the implication of housing market developments on people’s decisions to have children,” lead author Associate Professor Stephen Whelan said.
Researchers found that families who experience a $100,000 (US$71,000) increase in housing wealth are 18 percent more likely to have a child. In addition, married couples with mortgages are the most likely to have children.
Whelan said the study highlighted a significant and perhaps unsurprising trend.
“Housing constitutes a major cost of raising a child, so, as the cost of housing increases, having children in Australia has become more expensive,” he said. “Renters, who are generally less financially secure than homeowners, may choose to delay having children in the face of rapidly rising house prices.”
The study used data from partnered 25 to 45-year-old women from the annual Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey results from 2001 to 2018 about the likeliness to have children in the future. It was then measured against LGA-based median property price data.
Whelan said given that property prices had skyrocketed by over 20 percent in the past two years, the results are now likely even stronger.
Since 1976, Australia’s fertility rate has been below the replacement level, which is the level where the population is replaced from one generation to the next without migration.
Meanwhile, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) revealed in December that the country’s fertility rate had hit a record low of 1.58 babies per woman in 2020.
“The record low total fertility rate can be attributed to fewer births and birth registrations in most jurisdictions in a year marked by COVID-19 disruptions,” ABS Director of Demography Beidar Cho said.