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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  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).


  1. Ahn, N. (2001). Age at first-time homeownership in Spain. Documento de trabajo 2001-23, Fundación de Estudios de Economía Aplicada.

  2. Ahn, N., & Sánchez-Marcos, V. (2017). Emancipation under the great recession in Spain. Review of Economics of the Household, 15(2), 477–495.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Aparicio-Fenoll, A., & Oppedisano, V. (2012). Fostering the emancipation of young people: Evidence from a Spanish rental subsidy. IZA Discussion Paper Series 6651.

  4. Arrazola, M., Hevia, J., Romero, D., & Sanz-Sanz, J. F. (2014). Determinants of the Spanish housing market over three decades and three booms: Long run supply and demand elasticities. Working Papers in Public Finance 13/2014.

  5. Asociación Hipotecaria Española. (2012). Boletín Estadístico Trimestral. 2T2012, Mimeo.

  6. Baizán, P., Aassve, A., & Billari, F. (2003). Cohabitation, marriage, and first birth: The interrelationship of family formation events in Spain. European Journal of Population, 19, 147–169.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Boelhouwer, P. J., & Heijden, H. (1992). Housing systems in Europe. Delft: Delft University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Cabré, A., & Módenes, J. A. (2004). Homeownership and social inequality in a comparative perspective. In In K. Kurz & H.-P. Blossfeld (Eds.), Home-ownership and social inequality in Spain (pp. 233–254). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Camarassi, J., Gros, D., & Micossi, S. (2009). The global financial crisis: Causes and cures. Journal of Common Market Studies, 47(5), 977–996.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Cancelo, J. R., & Espasa, A. (2000). Análisis cuantitativo de los precios de la vivienda: principales resultados e implicaciones sobre el funcionamiento del mercado de la vivienda en España. Madrid: Documentos de Trabajo. Estadística y Econometría. Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Estadística.

    Google Scholar 

  11. CGPJ. (2013). Aproximación a la conciliación de los datos sobre ejecuciones hipotecarias y desahucios. Boletín Información Estadística, 35, 1–9. Retrieved June 19, 2017, from

  12. Etxezarreta, A. E., Cano, G. F., Hoekstra, J., & Dol, K. (2013). Análisis multiescalar de la burbuja inmobiliaria y los desahucios: la Comunidad Autónoma de Euskadi en el contexto estatal y europeo. Revista de Estudios Regionales, 98, 51–76.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Europe, Housing. (2015). The state of housing in the EU 2015. Brussels: Housing Europe, the European Federation for Public, Cooperative and Social Housing.

    Google Scholar 

  14. European Mortgage Federation. (2012). HYPOSTAT 2011 a review of Europe’s mortgage and housing markets. Brussels: (European Mortgage Federation).

    Google Scholar 

  15. Fernández Cordón, J. A. (1997). Youth residential independence and autonomy: A comparative study. Journal of Family Issues, 18(6), 576–607.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Forrest, R., & Murie, A. (2013). Housing and family wealth in comparative perspective. In In R. Forrest & A. Murie (Eds.), Housing and family wealth (pp. 1–7). London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  17. García-Montalvo, J. (2007). Algunas consideraciones sobre el problema de la vivienda en España. Papeles de Economía Española, 113, 138–155.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Gentile, A. (2016). Rental subsidy and the emancipation of young adults in Spain. International Journal of Housing Policy, 16(2), 243–254.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Holdsworth, C. (1998). Leaving home in Spain: A regional analysis. International Journal of Population Geography, 4(4), 341–360.;2-c.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Holdsworth, C., & Irazoqui, M. S. (2002). First housing moves in Spain: An analysis of leaving home and first housing acquisition. European Journal of Population, 18(1), 1–19.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Huang, Y., & Clark, W. A. V. (2002). Housing tenure choice in transitional urban China: A multilevel analysis. Urban Studies, 39(1), 7–32.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Iacovou, M. (2002). Regional differences in the transition to adulthood. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 580(1), 40–69.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Institut d’Estadística de Catalunya. (2018). Alquiler de viviendas. Rentas medias mensuales. Municipios con más de 70.000 habitantes. Retrieved June 13, 2018 from

  24. Instituto Nacional de Estadística. Hogares por régimen de tenencia de la vivienda y edad y sexo de la persona de referencia. Retrieved June 15, 2017 from

  25. Instituto Nacional de Estadística. Microdatos. Retrieved March 8, 2016 from

  26. Jurado, T. (2003). La vivienda como determinante de la formación familiar en España desde una perspectiva comparada. Revista Española de Investigaciones Sociológicas, 103, 113–157.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Jurado, T. (2006). El creciente dinamismo familiar frente a la inflexibilidad del modelo de vivienda español. Cuadernos de Información Económica, 193, 117–126.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Lee, S. W., & Myers, D. (2003). Local housing-market effects on tenure choice. Journal of Housing and the Built Environment, 18(2), 129–157.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Lerbs, O., & Oberst, C. (2014). Explaining the spatial variation in homeownership rates: Results for German regions. Regional Studies, 48(5), 844–865.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Malmendier, U., & Steiny, A. (2016). Rent or buy? The role of lifetime experiences of macroeconomic shocks within and across countries. In Paper presented at the CEPR network event on household finance, 6–7 May, Imperial College Business School, London.

  31. Ministerio de Fomento. Anuario, estadísticas de síntesis y boletín. Retrieved March 8, 2016 from

  32. Mínguez, A. M. (2016). Economic crisis and the new housing transitions of young people in Spain. International Journal of Housing Policy.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Módenes, J. A. (2011). El análisis dinámico del sistema residencial urbano: el caso de España. In I. Pujadas Rúbies, J. B. Carrasco, A. G. Coll, F. Gil, C. L. Villanueva, D. D. Aguilera, & T. V. Bendito (Eds.), Población y espacios urbanos (pp. 413–430). Barcelona: Departamento de Geografia UB and Grupo Población AGE.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Módenes, J. A., & López-Colás, J. (2007). Constitución familiar y régimen de tenencia de la vivienda: España en el contexto europeo. In A. Cabré & P. Miret (Eds.), La constitución familiar en España (pp. 199–243). Bilbao: Fundación BBVA).

    Google Scholar 

  35. Módenes, J. A., & López-Colás, J. (2014). Recent demographic change and housing in Spain: Towards a new housing system? Revista Española de Investigaciones Sociológicas, 148(1), 103–134.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Mora-Sanguinetti, J. S., & Rubio, M. (2014). Recent reforms in Spanish housing markets: An evaluation using a DSGE model. Economic Modelling, 44, S42–S49.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Mulder, C., & Wagner, M. (1998). First-time home-ownership in the family life course: A West German-Dutch comparison. Urban studies, 35(4), 687–713.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Myers, D., & Lee, H. (2016). Cohort momentum and future homeownership: The outlook to 2050. Cityscape, 18(1), 131–143.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Naredo, J. M. (2010). El modelo inmobiliario español y sus consecuencias. Boletín CF + S. Tierra y libertad, 44, 13–27.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Ortega, E., Rubio, M., & Thomas, C. (2011). House purchase versus rental in Spain. Madrid: Banco de España.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Pareja-Eastaway, M. (2010). El régimen de tenencia de la vivienda en España. In J. Leal (Ed.), La politica de vivenda en España (pp. 101–128). Madrid: Editorial Pablo Iglesias.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Reher, D. S. (1998). Family ties in Western Europe: Persistent contrasts. Population and Development Review, 24(2), 203–234.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Rodríguez-López, J. (2008). La situación del mercado de vivienda en España. Boletín Económico de ICE, 2951, 11–24.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Romero, J. (2010). Construcción residencial y gobierno del territorio en España: de la burbuja especulativa a la recesión. Causas y consecuencias. Cuadernos geográficos de la Universidad de Granada, 47, 17–46.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Servicio de Estudios Económicos BBVA. (2009). Situación Inmobiliaria. Retrieved June 12, 2018 from

  46. Shiller, R. (2007). Understanding recent trends in house prices and homeownership, 2007. NBER Working Paper No. 13553.

  47. Sobotka, T., & Toulemon, L. (2008). Overview Chapter 4: Changing family and partnership behaviour: Common trends and persistent diversity across Europe. Demographic Research, 19(6), 85–138.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Speare, A. (1970). Home ownership, life cycle stage, and residential mobility. Demography, 7(4), 449–458.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Yeh-Yun Lin, C., Edvisson, L., Chen, J., & Beding, T. (2012). National intellectual capital and the financial crisis in Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain. New York, NY: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

Download references


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).

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Alda Botelho Azevedo.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.



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.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

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).

Download citation


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