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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The housing consumption of empty nest households Weikum, Gary Lester


The purposes of this study are to develop a demographic profile of empty nesters and describe their housing consumption; to determine the number of empty nesters who are occupying family housing; and provide a summary of the housing needs of empty nesters which cause them to occupy the type of housing which they do. This study is not intended to develop public policy to encourage empty nesters to move, rather, it attempts to answer some fundamental questions about the impact of empty nesters on the family housing supply in urban areas. A detailed examination of empty nester housing consumption in the Vancouver, C.M.A. Canada was conducted through analysis of 1981 Census Canada Public Use Sample Tapes. The findings indicate that empty nesters have a high propensity to live independently in owner-occupied family type single detached dwellings. Contrary to popular perception, condominiums have not attracted large numbers of empty nest couples. Empty nesters appear to retain their independent living arrangements and family type housing for as long as possible. Income, more than any other variable tested, influences the size of dwelling occupied by this group., and relatively low monthly housing costs caused by high equity situations may counteract any desire to economize space after the children have left the family home. This study was conducted as a result of the apparent lack of empirical data regarding empty nesters and the various assumptions that they were contributing to family housing shortage problems. It is important that researchers not pre-judge what is adequate housing for empty nesters. Rather, researchers should focus on the resources and needs of this group and attempt to supply appropriate housing from this direction rather than implement policies to get them out of their current housing units.

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