Insights: Housing, wealth and inheritance 

“Insights: Housing, wealth and inheritance”, Insights, Series 3, Ep 1

Our November podcast of the month – Insights from Understanding Society – kicks off this week with Dr Rory Coulter, Associate Professor of Human Geography at UCL and David Sturrock, Senior Research Economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies in conversation with Catherine McDonald about the housing crisis in the UK.  

They begin with a discussion of Rory’s recent research which used the Understanding Society data set to examine how housing both reflects and amplifies inequalities in wealth, prosperity, health, employment, education and family. Focusing particularly on the real-life impact of housing inequality for those hit hardest, and how well targeted housing policy can help mitigate this impact.  

For Rory the key to addressing the housing crisis is to “move beyond the numbers game” towards more comprehensive, targeted housing policy. He said:

“What I’d like to see is a recognition that actually, there are a lot of interlocking crises here, and that we’re going to have to use different levers to address those different crises.” 

Rory Coulter, Insights (November 2023)

The three then discussed David’s research which uses the Understanding Society data to examine how wealth transfer and inheritance from housing assets impacts social mobility. His study found that more than half of intergenerational wealth transfer is used for property purchase or improvement.  

Catherine then turns the discussion towards policy solutions. David outlines policy options including greater taxation of wealth transfers and inheritance to use this revenue to fund public services and housing, or larger scale economic changes which make saving for house purchase easier or unnecessary.  

To finish, the conversation then turns to the upcoming general election and what Rory and David would like to see promised when it comes to housing. David argues that the most important things is for a “longer term plan and to give people some certainty and sense of direction”, and “some sense of more strategic direction” rather than “chopping and changing frequently”. Rory echoed this sentiment and added to this the importance of “investment in stock in order to make this a green transition… and to improve people lives”.    

Insights is produced by Understanding Society in collaboration with Research Podcasts and is published fortnightly.  

The podcast takes a deep dive into the research and researchers using data from Understanding Society’s longitudinal study which surveys 40,000 households every year on a huge range of topics to understand the long-term effects of social and economic change.   

Hosted by Catherine McDonald and Chris Coates, this series brings you six episodes exploring housing, climate change, religion, loneliness, boomerang kids and coastal communities.   

Listen to episode 1 of Insights now and stay tuned for more conversations with researchers on how they use Understanding Society to create research with impact.

Research Podcasts offer podcast consultancy, production and training for researchers and academics. Check out our various training workshops including an introduction to podcasting workshophow to launch your podcast and our more advanced courses on podcast presentingpodcast editing, and how to build a podcast brand

Freya Peake, Research and Administration Assistant at Research Podcasts

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