How the housing affordability crisis is changing QLD households

Researchers at The University of Queensland have found young adults and baby boomers are bearing the brunt of Queensland’s housing affordability crisis.

Demographer Dr Elin Charles-Edwards from UQ’s City Impact Lab led a study that showed the two age groups were increasingly likely to live with other people, rather than in their own households, compared to five years ago.

"Our analysis of Australian Census data between 2016 and 2021 has found a decline in ’householder’ rates for young adults, as well as those aged 60-plus," Dr Charles-Edwards said.

"More of them were sharing with others, instead of living in their own flat or house.

"This likely represents pent-up demand for housing that needs to be addressed."

In some Queensland regions, people in their 20’s were also less likely to lead a household in 2021, compared to 2016.

"This was most pronounced in high growth areas like the Sunshine Coast and Cairns, but also markedly on the Gold Coast, Moreton Bay region and Wide Bay," Dr Charles-Edwards said.

"These are young people often staying longer in - or returning to - the family home.

"And that could be due to local housing market dynamics and affordability issues for younger people.

"For baby boomers, the trend could reflect market factors as well as behavioural responses to the COVID-19 pandemic."

Dr Charles-Edwards said a combination of elements was putting pressure on Queensland’s housing supply.

"It’s not just population growth - demand is also being driven by the ageing population and contemporary living arrangements," she said.

The research found households were growing at a faster rate than the population.

"Between the 2016 and 2021 Censuses, the Queensland population grew by 9.6 per cent while the number of households increased by 13 per cent," Dr Charles-Edwards said.

"As people age households typically get smaller, and with our baby boomer cohort getting older the demand for housing will only grow."

Dr Charles-Edwards said more research was needed to understand the reflexive relationship between Queensland’s demography and housing.

"In periods of housing shortage, people might adapt by moving in with family or staying at home longer, but that’s not possible for everyone and not sustainable for many," she said.

"Queensland needs well-formed housing policy, with people at the centre."

This research is available at the UQ City Impact Lab