Housing and mental well-being: Evidence from China and the UK

Yang, Siyao (2020). Housing and mental well-being: Evidence from China and the UK. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis consists of three empirical studies, and is motivated by the following social phenomena: the phenomenon that owning more than one home has become widespread in China over the past two decades, and the phenomenon that mental health has attracted increasing attention in both developed and developing countries. The first study investigates the extent to which acquiring multiple houses is affected by the presence of a son in the family in China. The second study focuses on the extent to which Chinese households’ mental well-being is determined by owning multiple homes. The third study analyses the how housing tenure affects households’ mental ill-being in the UK in the presence of financial vulnerability.

I use the 2011 and 2013 waves of the China Household Finance Survey (CHFS) to test the extent to which the acquisition of multiple houses is determined by the presence of male children in the family. I conjecture that, as a result of a very high sex ratio resulting from the one-child policy, Chinese families with male children may want to purchase additional houses to enhance the marriage chances of their sons. I also investigate whether this effect is larger for families with a son born in the year of the Dragon. In Chinese culture, the ‘dragon sons’ are believed to have better fortune throughout their lives. I find that families with male children aged 25 or older are most likely to acquire additional houses. This effect is highest in regions characterised by higher sex ratios. However, having a son born in the year of Dragon does not make a difference.

I use the 2011 and 2013 waves of the CHFS and the 2012 and 2014 waves of the China Family Panel Studies (CFPS) to investigate the extent to which owning multiple homes impacts households’ mental well-being. I then analyses whether the association between multiple-home ownership and mental well-being is stronger for married households who are supposed to derive more sense of stability from home ownership. Inspired by the theory that owning a house can enhance children’s marriage prospects, which may in turn, enhance the parent’s mental well-being, I also investigate that whether this association is stronger for households with children. Making use of four different measures of mental well-being, I find that owning multiple homes is strongly and positively associated with households’ mental well-being in the Chinese context. However, being married or having children make no difference.

I use eight waves of the English Longitudinal Survey of Ageing (ELSA) database to test the effects of housing tenure on mental health in England. Specifically, I investigate the extent to which owning one’s house with mortgage, being a private renter, and being a public renter, affect mental ill-being. In addition, I also study whether this association is stronger for private and social renters than for mortgagors, considering that mortgage payments may be particularly burdensome for financially vulnerable people. I then test whether the association between housing tenure and mental ill-being is stronger for households characterised by a higher financial vulnerability. I find that compared to households who own their home outright, those owning a house with mortgage, private renters and public renters all show higher levels of mental ill-being, with the renter showing the highest levels. In addition, I find that being unemployed and experiencing financial fragility strengthen the association between housing tenure and mental ill-being, whilst being 65 or older weakens the association.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: Birmingham Business School, Department of Economics
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HA Statistics
H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/10351


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