The effect of widowhood on housing and location choices
The number of elderly persons living alone is increasing and their influence on the housing market is getting larger. This paper investigates the effect of the loss of a spouse on housing and location choices. A partner's death induces a decrease in income which may lead to downsizing. Widowhood may also reveal new preferences, such as the need to be close to care givers and health services. We estimate the effect of a transition to widowhood on housing consumption and location choices using the French Housing Surveys. Widowhood significantly increases residential mobility, especially at older ages and for those who have children. Mobile widows tend to live closer to their relatives but do not move to co-reside with a child. Housing and location adjustments are consistent with new widows moving to dwellings that are smaller, more often apartments and in the rental sector, and on average located in larger municipalities where services are more accessible. The housing demand of widows will be significant in the next 20Â years, especially the demand for small dwellings.
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