Housing related experiences for families of young children

Family in front of house

Growing Up in New Zealand families experienced a high degree of movement between housing tenure and income bands during their child’s first four years of life.

This Growing Up in New Zealand study looked at the housing experiences of cohort children and their families across the first four years of a child’s life, in particular those living in rental accommodation and those in low income households. 

The research used both longitudinal data and sequence state cluster analyses to understand the pathways and changes in housing tenure (home ownership, public rental, and private rental) and income states that families experienced across time.

Findings:

  • Families experienced a high degree of movement between housing tenure and income bands during their child’s first four years of life, with 30% of families changing housing tenure at least once in the preschool period.
  • Home ownership with high household income (greater than $100K per year) was the state least likely to have changed across the four timepoints, while families in the private rental market and those in public housing experienced a much greater number of different housing and income journeys, i.e. changes in states, over the first four years.
  • Although tenure type changes were common, the majority of journey changes were due to families experiencing changes in their household income through the period rather than changes in their housing tenure.
  • While the report demonstrates associations between housing and income, and specific measures of wellbeing, causality has not been addressed. However, these results highlight the need for and importance of wrapping support around families whose journeys were associated with poorer health and wellbeing outcomes.


The researchers identified four main themes they urge policy makers to consider:

  • Support families through income and housing tenure journeys during the first few years.
  • Improve the security of tenure for families renting, enabling them to create a place to call home, facilitating residential stability and promoting connected communities.
  • Support current policy and legislation aimed at ensuring rental homes are warm, dry, and safe.
  • Enable environments that contribute to optimal cognitive and educational outcomes for children whether their families rent or own their home.
  • Support opportunities for quality time between parents and their children.


The researchers acknowledge the various government policy and legislative interventions introduced in the housing space since this data was collected, and they hope to extend this research using data from subsequent data sets to evaluate:

  • If patterns seen in this report persist.
  • Whether more recent the policy interventions and legislation (e.g., Healthy Homes Standards, Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, Winter Energy Payment and Working for Families Tax Credits) and public sector programmes such as Kāinga Ora’s build and renewal programme have had an effect on children’s health and wellbeing.

You can read the full report here.