City Futures Research Centre UNSW Built Environment

Downsizing amongst Older Australians

Given the rapidly ageing Australian population and the need to ensure appropriate and affordable housing, this project investigates the phenomenon of downsizing amongst older people in Australia, a hitherto largely under-researched aspect  of ageing and housing.  A broad definition of downsizing is adopted including not only reduction in no of bedrooms or floor area, but also the size and difficulty of maintaining outdoor space and reductions in housing costs (downpricing). It aims to discover the extent of downsizing; the demographics, motivations and circumstances precipitating downsizing; the financial and social considerations and consequences of downsizing; obstacles or disincentives to downsizing; and what policy options might assist older people wishing or needing to downsize .  The research involves an international literature and policy review, analysis of indicative ABS Census and Survey of Disability and Ageing data, a national survey via 50 Something magazine (3293 responses), 60 face to face in-depth interviews in three states (NSW, Victoria and SA) and policy forums using the World Cafe methodology. The results will assist policy makers and the housing industry to better understand the housing needs of older Australians, and older people themselves to be more informed about issues around moving and downsizing in later life. The project commenced in April 2011 and is due to be completed by December 2012.