University of St Andrews

New research award on housing wealth & intergenerational justice

Tuesday 02 August 2011

The Centre for Housing Research has been awarded £0.7m in grant funding from the Leverhulme Trust.

The bid, led by Dr Beverley Searle, combines expertise from the Universities of St Andrews (Dr Kim McKee, Dr Maarten van Ham and Professor Duncan Maclennan), Durham (Professor Lorna Fox) and  Birmingham (Professor Karen Rowlingson).  The three year project, entitled ‘Mind the (Housing) Wealth Gap:  Intergenerational Justice and Family Welfare’, will focus on the transfers of wealth, particularly housing wealth, within families.  Firstly it addresses inequalities in society, particularly the uneven distribution of housing wealth within and across generations.  Those who do not have access to housing wealth are put at a disadvantage as housing increasingly determines life chances.  Secondly, it addresses these inequalities in the context of an ageing society.  As people live longer this places growing demands on housing wealth.  Parents face a difficult moral dilemma between saving wealth for their own welfare and health needs, against passing wealth on to their children to help them achieve educational, marital or housing aspirations.  Thirdly, where housing wealth takes a central role in such decisions, this raises legal concerns about the protection of assets, particularly for vulnerable owners.   Dr Searle said ‘understanding these issues will become vital to addressing the inequalities and injustices that current and future generations experience’.