Unpicking the downsizing discourse: understanding the housing moves made by older people in England

This paper by the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research, published in the journal Housing Studies, seeks to understand the housing moves made by older people in England.

The ‘downsizing’ discourse is presented as a ‘win-win’ situation which benefits older people and the rest of society. However, a survey and interviews conducted with over 55s in England reveals more nuanced patterns of residential moves, behaviours and aspirations than suggested by ‘downsizing’.

Only a minority of older households choose to downsize. This paper looks into this mismatch between observed housing choices and the construction of downsizing as a policy goal.

It suggests that theoretically speaking, the very notion of downsizing is problematic and difficult to define and is an over-simplistic concept which in reality applies to a heterogeneous group of people.