Research Programme

Growing Up and Growing Old in Scotland: housing transitions and changing living arrangements for young and older adults, 1991-2011

Elspeth Graham, Zhiqiang Feng, Francesca Fiori Secondary Data Analysis Initiative logo


The Project is funded under the ESRC Secondary Data Analysis Initiative


Project summary

The past few decades have seen significant demographic, social and economic changes that have resulted in increased diversity across individual life courses and housing careers. As young adults face difficulties in establishing independent living arrangements, so older adults are seen to be under-occupying larger family housing, leading to suggestions that the housing crisis in the UK is more about how the generations share housing than about housing supply. Although there is growing evidence of changes in age-related housing consumption from different parts of the developed world, there is need for a better understanding of what is driving these changes. This is especially so in relation to Scotland, which has a more rapidly ageing population, a different housing stock and a distinctive policy environment compared with the rest of the UK but is less frequently the focus of academic research.

The aim of the project was to address this research gap by investigating the dimensions and determinants of housing transitions and changes in living arrangements for young (aged 16-29) and older (aged 55-69) adults in Scotland between 1991 and 2011. It makes use of secondary data from three Scottish Censuses and from the Scottish Longitudinal Study, linked to other secondary data on housing and labour market characteristics.

The project addressed three main research questions:

  1. How have housing transitions and the living arrangements of young and older adults in Scotland changed between 1991 and 2011?
  2. What are the key determinants (individual and contextual) of housing transitions and living arrangements? And have these changed over time?
  3. Has social and geographical polarisation in housing transitions and living arrangements of young and older adults increased over time?

The dissemination of project findings will contribute to interdisciplinary research on population change and housing and will enhance the evidence base for policy development in Scotland. 


Project activities

Date Activity Description
7-9 September 2015 Presentation at the BSPS Conference 2015 held at the University of Leeds. The paper "Recent housing transitions among young adults in Scotland: home-ownership and the widening of socio-economic disadvantage" by Elspeth Graham, Francesca Fiori and Zhiqiang Feng was presented at this event.
16-17 June 2015 Presentations at the CPC organised 'Workshop on UK Population Change and Housing across the Lifecourse' held at the University of Southampton. The papers "Social inequalities and changing transitions to home ownership among young adults in Scotland over two decades" and "The impact of household changes on residential mobility and housing adjustments at older ages in Scotland" by Elspeth Graham, Francesca Fiori and Zhiqiang Feng were presented at this event.
4-6 February 2015 Presentation at the 'AISP Italian Association for Population Studies Conference' held in Palermo Italy. The paper "Household changes and housing consumption at older ages in Scotland: a comparison of two decades" by Elspeth Graham, Francesca Fiori and Zhiqiang Feng was presented at this event.
5 June 2014 CPC seminar presented at Ladywell House, Edinburgh. The paper "Growing Up and Growing Old in Scotland: housing transitions and changing living arrangements for young and older adults, 1991-2011" was presented by Elspeth Grham, Francesca Fiori and Zhiqiang Feng.



Graham, E., Fiori, F. and Feng, Z. (2015) To downsize or not? Household changes and housing consumption among older adults in Scotland. CPC Briefing Paper 30, ESRC Centre for Population Change, UK


Media activities

You can browse population-related articles from CPC members on our! page.