Ageing in place: intergenerational and intrafamilial housing transfers and shifts in later life


This project drew on an extensive survey of nearly 7000 older Australians (aged 50 years and over) talking about their intentions for future housing, inheritance, and legacies for their children. The research found that there is a clear relationship between housing tenure and age and people's desire to age in place or move in the future. Home ownership is a conduit to greater possibilities of self-determination of an older person's future lifestyle choices. The most significant feature of the responses of older Australians was their desire to have a sense of flexibility with regard to their lifestyle intentions during the last years of their life. Other emerging issues from the research that the attitudes of many men and women towards inheritance have shifted from what previously would have been considered the right thing to do in terms of obligations and responsibilities to their children.

Project Number: 70223
Research Theme(s): Health, ageing and disability
Project Leader: Olsberg, Diana
Funding Year: 2003
Research Centre: UNSW-UWS


A national research study to pursue the issues of economic and social circumstances of mid-life people at household level in order to predict housing preferences, future demands and capacities to pay for housing and other human services and actual patterns of housing tenure and residential mobility for a sample of men and women in later life, whether still in the work force or in retirement. With the rapid growth of the older population in Australia, increasing longevity and enhanced expectations for retirement lifestyles and demand for health services, there is interest in the development of policy incentives to encourage and facilitate sustained independent living by older people, to reduce the mounting fiscal burdens of government support for public housing or subsidised hostel, retirement village and nursing home accommodation and limit tax burdens on those in the future labour force.

The study applied a life course approach and retirement migration theory to develop multidimensional scenarios of future home ownership patterns and housing expectations. The life course approach encompasses prior expectations about ageing in place, actual and intended intergenerational transfers, residential history and life course changes in family relations and post-retirement behaviour. Differences in behaviour patterns for men and women, for various socio-economic and community groups will be examined, including Indigenous family groups. Geographical location and urban-rural differences will also be explored. Studies of intergenerational transfers in Australia conclude that they are a key element in the intergenerational transmission of wealth, and that in 1999 48 per cent of families were either receivers or providers of private transfers. But there is no detailed picture of the motivation for transfers, the extent of inter vivos transfers, and little understanding about the circumstances, needs and resources of different groups of providers or recipients. This study aimed to fill that knowledge gap.