• Children in poverty were almost twice as likely to have moved three or more times by the age of 14 years as children not in poverty.

This chart shows how the likelihood of moving multiple times by the age of 14 years differs between children in poverty and those not in poverty.

Living in poverty is measured as when net household income after housing costs is below 60% of the median net household income in the most recent year of the study.

Residential moves matter for health as instability at an early age can indicate interruptions in education and social participation, which can negatively affect their later lives. If certain groups of children are more likely to experience this, it can cause inequality in health outcomes.

There is an association between frequent residential moves and poorer health, including mental health issues and health conditions. This may be due to the factors that require moves, such as economic insecurity, as well as the moving process itself.

Overall, children in poverty are 1.5 times more likely to have moved multiple times before the age of 14 years than those not in poverty.

  • The proportion of children in poverty who have not moved address is 30%, 13 percentage points lower than for children not in poverty.
  • The proportion of children in poverty who have moved three or more times is 11%, which is almost double the share for children not in poverty.

The chart shows that children living in poverty are much more likely to experience housing instability than those not in poverty.

From the Health Foundation’s long read exploring income and health, we know that living in poverty can negatively affect health outcomes. The addition of housing instability will only widen the gap further between health outcomes and poverty status.

Risk factors for health, such as housing insecurity and low income, are often experienced simultaneously by the same households. Poverty is frequently the root cause that needs to be tackled. However, housing insecurity affects a broad range of people and requires its own policy action.

  • Moving data is captured by change of address in each wave of the Millennium Cohort Study. As interview waves only occur every couple of years, it means that multiple moves between surveys are not captured. Therefore, the number of actual moves is likely to be higher.
  • Poverty is measured as those who are below 60% of median income after housing costs and is adjusted for size of household.

Source: UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies, Millennium Cohort Study, sweep 5

Related analysis


Frequency of residential moves by housing tenure


Children growing up in private or social rented accommodation are much more likely to have moved...


Trends in duration of housing occupancy


Over a quarter of private renters have been in their home for less than a year, which is much higher...


Relationship between health and residential moves


Increased frequency of residential moves is associated with poorer self-rated health.

Related long read

Long read

Better housing is crucial for our health and the COVID-19 recovery

28 December 2020

About 27 mins to read

Long read

Housing problems such as overcrowding, poor quality and unaffordable homes are a threat to health....

Explore the topics

Health inequalities

Money and resources





Neighbourhoods and surroundings

Coming soon

Family, friends and community

Coming soon

This is part of Evidence hub: What drives health inequalities?

Data, insights and analysis exploring how the circumstances in which we live shape our health