Duration, timing and order: How housing histories relate to later life wellbeing


  • Bram Vanhoutte CMIST/MICRA Sociology University of Manchester
  • Morten Wahrendorf University of Duesseldorf
  • James Nazroo




life course, housing, life history data, sequence analysis, United Kingdom


Accumulation, critical period and social mobility are three powerful, interrelated life course mechanisms often tested using relatively crude empirical measures. This contribution wants to highlight the possibilities of life history data in grasping the importance of duration, timing and order of housing over the life course, by examining its association with wellbeing in later life. Housing is a key dimension of life course socioeconomic position, as the most common form of wealth accumulation in the UK. Our study makes use of the residential life history data, from birth up until the age of 50, collected in wave 3 of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), in a combination of sequence analysis, cluster analysis and regression techniques. A longer duration of renting and owning accommodation is related to respectively worse and better later life affective and eudemonic wellbeing. Moving more in childhood is not associated with later life wellbeing, while frequent moving in young adulthood has a positive association with affective and eudemonic wellbeing. Moving more in midlife is associated with lower life satisfaction. Ten distinct housing careers emerge, illustrating the importance of accommodating heterogeneity in the population. Downward housing trajectories are associated with significantly lower later life wellbeing, while growing up abroad as a child is associated with higher later life wellbeing.

Author Biography

Bram Vanhoutte, CMIST/MICRA Sociology University of Manchester

Simon Research Fellow in Sociology, University of Manchester