Family formation might be a casualty of unchecked home price growth

Family formation might be a casualty of unchecked home price growth

Family formation might be a casualty of unchecked home price growth

Housing costs might have a considerable impact on when – or even whether – Canadians choose to have children.

In a column for the Financial Post, Ryerson University professor Murtaza Haider and real estate industry veteran Stephen Moranis discussed the possibility of home price growth forcing young families to delay raising their families.

“On the one hand, an increase in shelter costs makes the space needed for child-rearing more expensive, resulting in a negative impact on fertility,” the duo wrote.

“Conversely, those who own their own homes benefit from increasing prices because of the wealth effect. They can extract home equity to invest in child-rearing and hence, may experience a positive impact on fertility.”

For instance, BC’s average age of first birth is now at 31.6, which is markedly above the 29.2 national average, according to Statistics Canada.

Moreover, a University of Calgary analysis found that the total number of BC mothers in the 35-39 age bracket went up by 60% between 2000 and 2017. During the same period, the province’s mothers in the 40-44 age range have increased twofold.

UBC professor and Generation Squeeze founder Paul Kershaw attributed the trend to a multi-front battle that large numbers of BC’s young women are struggling with: holding off from building families due to elevated costs, and facing the reality of their biological clocks.

“This is the province where hard work pays off the least for younger people in their prime childbearing years,” Kershaw told CBC News earlier this year.

In another study, professors Jeremy Clark and Ana Ferrer argued otherwise, saying that any correlation is unconvincing at best.

“In cases where a woman who owned a home remained within the same real estate district (i.e. a region governed by the same real estate board) for the past six years, a $10,000 increase in average housing prices the year prior raised the odds of a woman giving birth by 6.7%. The impact of an increase in house prices was statistically more robust for women aged between 23 and 37,” Haider and Moranis noted, explaining the Clark-Ferrer paper.

“But when they included homeowners who relocated, the authors found that higher house prices were ‘not significantly associated with the likelihood of home-owning women giving birth.’ Moreover, changes in housing prices had no discernible impact on the fertility of renters.”