The University of Newcastle, Australia

CHASM Research Fellowship Awarded to Dr Julia Cook

Friday, 8 February 2019

Dr Julia Cook has been awarded a prestigious international research fellowship to the University of Birmingham’s Centre on Household Assets and Savings Management (CHASM), a centre that brings together the University’s social policy faculty and business school.

Julia Cook

Youth sociologist with the School of Humanities and Social Science, Dr Cook will spend four weeks at Birmingham mid 2019 to focus on her research into the impact of intergenerational financial transfers to enable entry into the property market.

Dr Cook says that, just like in Australia, entry into home ownership has become increasingly challenging for British young adults with sharp increases in housing prices relative to income resulting in declining rates of home ownership among the 25-34 age bracket.

“The practice of intergenerational financial support which allows young people to purchase their first home has increased with a recent UK report estimating that parents of buyers are now involved in 27 percent of property transactions,” Dr Cook said.

“The focus of my study while in Birmingham is to examine the impacts of those financial transfers. How do they affect the financial well being of each party – the parent (or donor) and the child (or recipient)?”

As a youth sociologist Dr Cook’s initial interest in this project was in the effects on the child in receiving the money transfer, and she has already conducted research into how recipients perceive and manage financial transfer and how this impacts upon their family relationships.

“What my research so far has shown is that when the parents had received an inheritance from an older relative and then passed some or all of this down to their children, the children did not appear to be as likely to feel as though they needed to pay it back,” Dr Cook noted. “However if parents gave their children money from their own savings it was treated very differently by the recipients and even if the parents said it was a gift, the children often saw it as a temporary loan and wanted to pay it back.”

“With this new fellowship I will also be focusing on what the experience is like for the parents.”

While in Birmingham Dr Cook will collaborate with Dr Louise Overton who is a scholar in social policy and a member of CHASM.

“Her research interests focus on older people and personal finance so she will be the ideal research partner to complement the work I have already done on the children’s side of the financial transfer scenario. We’ll be conducting interviews with parents and children who have been involved in these transfers,” Dr Cook said.

Dr Cook says the United Kingdom and Australia make great comparison cases for the experience of entry into housing and so hopes to conduct a sister study in 2020 in Newcastle.

“We have very similar cultures of high proportions of home owners and similar societal values for home ownership and asset based retirement approaches in which the home forms a key asset. As with any national context there are subtle difference, but sometimes you can best understand your own context when you compare it to somewhere else.”

Dr Cook’s fellowship will also involve presenting a research seminar in Birmingham and writing a policy brief for the CHASM website about Australian young adults’ experiences of the property market in capital cities.


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