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Moving house affects children

Many more families are now living in rental accommodation for significant periods of the first years of their children’s lives.  A new report by the Growing up in New Zealand longitudinal study shows that families living in private rental accommodation are the most likely to move in this early period of life.  In fact the level of residential mobility of this group in New Zealand is greater than that of similar groups in comparable studies in other countries, such as the Milliennium Cohort in the UK.


These findings are the result of tracking the movements of 6853 babies born in the first three months of 2010 to March 2012. It was found that 66% of children in private rentals moved during this period compared with 46% in public housing and 32% in family-owned homes. Across the whole sample, 45% of the children moved at least once in their first two years.


This mobility is having some consequences for these children.  Plunket clinical advisory manager Karen Magrath has indicated that children do better when their families are connected to the local community and therefore the children of families who have moved do not have this advantage.  Early Childhood Council chief executive Peter Reynolds said that moves were often disruptive for children in childcare.


Families moved for a variety of reasons, some positive and some negative.  An example of a positive move is the opportunity to move to a larger house while some families have been forced to seek other accommodation when their current rental has been sold or it has become overcrowded.  However the report raises the issue of security of tenure, an issue which has been debated in recent months in response to the future prospect that living in rental accommodation will be a fact of life for many more people for longer periods of their lives.  Moves to improve the security of housing tenure in the private rental market may well protect families from those negative effects now being identified as being a consequence of having to move frequently.


To read the full report go here

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