Partnership patterns and homeownership: a cross-country comparison of Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom

Publication type

Journal Article

Published in

Housing Studies


Michael J. Thomas and Clara H. Mulder

Publication date


Using detailed micro-level survey data for three advanced European welfare-state economies (Germany, Netherlands and UK), our analyses suggest a fairly common hierarchy to homeownership, according to partnership status, exists. In all three countries, a variety of interrelated factors appear to encourage greater propensities for homeownership amongst co-residential households (married/cohabiting), as compared to single-person households. However, important macro-contextual differences do appear to play a significant role in mediating the magnitude of difference within this hierarchy. For instance, in Germany the importance of marriage as a predictor of homeownership is found to be particularly strong, with married couples having far higher propensities for homeownership, even when compared to non-married cohabiters. In the Netherlands and UK, where an emphasis on traditional family and marriage is less pronounced, and where homeownership is generally more popular and accessible, the differentiation between married/unmarried partners is greatly reduced. Furthermore, we find no evidence to suggest that living-apart-together partners are more/less likely to own their home than singles.

Volume and page numbers

31, 935-963





Social Structure, Social Change, Family Formation And Dissolution, Welfare Benefits and Housing Market


© 2016 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group; This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.; Permission is granted subject to the terms of the License under which the work was published. Please check the License conditions for the work which you wish to reuse. Full and appropriate attribution must be given. This permission does not cover any third party copyrighted material which may appear in the work requested.; Open Access article