Recent increase of tenancy in young Spanish couples: sociodemographic factors and regional market dynamics


The increase of the proportion of rental-occupied dwellings between 2001 and 2011 is one of the most outstanding results of the 2011 Spanish census. This study aims to explain this increase in tenancy, unveiling the sociodemographic factors behind this pattern at the individual level, and at the regional level clarifying the role of market dynamics in this change. Accordingly, using the microdata from the 2001 and 2011 Spanish censuses, multilevel logistic models are estimated. Two main findings can be drawn from this study: the recent increase in tenancy occurs concurrently with a process of convergence towards a greater acceptance of tenancy among sociodemographic groups, and changes in housing purchase prices have an impact on the likelihood of a young Spanish couple being tenants. The policy implications of these findings are twofold. On the one hand, a more active role in the regulation of housing purchase prices to deter speculative demand is needed. On the other, a greater demand for tenancy requires changes in the tenure composition of Spanish housing stock. Finally, having effective alternatives to homeownership, young adults could rely less upon family networks during the transition to adulthood which could ultimately contribute to a reduction in late parental home-leaving and encourage family formation.

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  1. 1.

    In Spain, the analysis of the evolution of rental prices is limited by the lack of official data sources (Servicio de Estudios Economicos BBVA 2009). However, some provinces produce official statistics, as the case of Catalonia. In this province, rental prices followed a trend similar to housing purchase prices in the period 2001–2011 (Institut d’Estadistica de Catalunya 2018).

  2. 2.

    The size of the sample is 5% of the resident population in Spain in 2001, and 10% in 2011. Data available at: (Instituto Nacional de Estadistica 2016).

  3. 3.

    Data available at: (Ministerio de Fomento 2016).

  4. 4.

    Tests have been performed considering the educational attainment of the male partner and of both partners simultaneously. The differences are not relevant and the model becomes less parsimonious.

  5. 5.

    For information on the distribution of dependent and independent variables, see Table 3 in “Appendix”.

  6. 6.

    In the exploratory analysis that lead to the final analytical model, several sociodemographic and residential variables from the census 2001 and 2011 were tested. At the end, those variables were excluded due to collinearity or insignificant explanation gain.

  7. 7.

    For a complete overview of Spanish provinces, see Fig. 2 in “Appendix”.

  8. 8.

    These percentages relate the variances of the Model 6 with the Model 5, which includes individual variables (0.198 in 2001 and 0.123 in 2011).


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Funding was provided by Generalitat de Catalunya (Grant No. CSO2016-79142-R) and Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (Grant No. UID/SOC/50013/2013).

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Correspondence to Alda Botelho Azevedo.

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See Figs. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 and Tables 3, 4 and 5.

Fig. 1


Map of Spanish provinces (NUTS3).

Fig. 2

Source: Census 2001 and 2011, NSI

Proportion of women aged 25–34 years old living with a partner in a renter-occupied dwelling (%), Spain, 2001 and 2011.

Fig. 3

Source: Ministry of Public Works

Cumulative annual growth rate of the price of private housing by square meter (%), Spain, 2001–2011.

Fig. 4

Source: Census 2001 and 2011, NSI

Households living in buildings with four floors or more above the ground level, Spain, 2001 and 2011.

Fig. 5

Source: Census 2001 and 2011, NSI

Mean age of the population, Spain, 2001 and 2011.

Table 3 Characteristics of individual variables included in the multilevel logistic regression model for women aged 25–34 years old living with a partner in a rented-occupied dwelling, Spain, 2001 and 2011.
Table 4 Odds ratios for women aged 25–34 years old living with a partner in a rented-occupied dwelling, revised from the multilevel logistic regression models, Spain, 2001.
Table 5 Odds ratios for women aged 25–34 years old living with a partner in a rented-occupied dwelling, revised from the multilevel logistic regression models, Spain, 2011.

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Azevedo, A.B., López-Colás, J. & Módenes, J.A. Recent increase of tenancy in young Spanish couples: sociodemographic factors and regional market dynamics. J Hous and the Built Environ 34, 1043–1063 (2019) doi:10.1007/s10901-019-09658-y

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  • Census data
  • Housing prices
  • Multilevel analysis
  • Renting
  • Spain