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Far fewer people are moving into new homes compared to the 1970s

A new study from Queen’s University Belfast has found that approximately one million less people moved to new homes in the 2000s compared to the 1970s. The new trend is linked to an aging population, changes in the housing market, and modified behavior patterns.

“There has been a decade-on-decade decrease in people moving home,” said study lead author Dr. Shuttleworth. “Using statistics from the census we measured the proportion of people changing addresses and found that this fell from 55% between 1971 and 1981 and to 45% between 2001 and 2011.”

Dr. Shuttleworth noted that the shift took place before the Great Recession of the late 2000s and early 2010s, so the decrease in migration cannot be fully explained by the economy.

The team spent three years investigating how many people moved to new homes in seven countries. They established that around a third of the internal migration decline in England and Wales could be attributed to changes in the population such as aging, but the remaining two-thirds of the decline correlated with changes in behavior. People are simply moving less than they did in the 1970s.

The study revealed the same trend in many other countries including Australia, Japan, the United States, Germany, and Italy. The only country examined in the study which saw a rise in migration was Sweden.

“The fall in migration has been most significant for moves of under 10 km and it has been experienced by nearly all types of people,” explained Dr. Shuttleworth. “It is not just the elderly who are not moving as much as they did in the 1970s but all age groups, it is not only owner occupiers but also those in social-rented housing and falls are not just concentrated amongst the unemployed but have also been experienced by those in work.”

Dr. Shuttleworth explained some of the dynamics of the changing population in England and Wales that contribute to how many people are moving.

“Some people are more mobile than others, for example, older people tend to change address less than younger people, whereas those with more education tend to move more than those who lack it,” said Dr. Shuttleworth.

“Our analysis also points to extended lives and a delay in people moving from their parent’s house to their own home. Workers also are commuting longer distances on a daily or weekly basis instead of moving home, and improved transport and communication technologies mean that there is less need to move.”

The study is published in the journal Population, Space and Place.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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