Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Dr. G.J. Papageorgiou


Dr. S.M. Taylor


This study examines the effects of the family life cycle on residential area evaluation. The analysis is based on a revised conceptualization of residential area evaluation that departs from previous research in two respects. First, life cycle status is hypothesized to affect two components of the evaluation process: residential area aspirations and the evaluation function. Residential area aspirations designate the attributes desired in the area immediately adjacent to a house. The evaluation function describes how aspirations are integrated with information about alternative areas. It is hypothesized that life cycle effects on the evaluation function result from changes in residential area aspirations through the life cycle. Second, the family life cycle is hypothesized to affect residential area aspirations through changes in leisure activities and differences in residential history.

These hypotheses were tested with data collected from a questionnaire survey of married women in Hamilton, Ontario. The sample was chosen to control for variations in social characteristics other than life cycle status. The relative importance of residential area aspirations was measured by explicit pairwise comparisons of 16 residential area attributes.

The results generally support the hypotheses, albeit weakly in some cases. Life cycle effects on residential area preferences were in the expected direction, but they were not statistically significant. This was due to the bias introduced by using photographs to elicit preferences.

Life cycle status was found to have significant effects on both components of the evaluation process. The importance of eight residential area attributes was related significantly to stage in the life cycle. There was agreement through the life cycle on the most and least important residential area attributes. Life cycle effects on residential area aspirations reflected changes in child care responsibilities. Women who had completed the parental career assigned less importance to spaciousness. Access to shops and to people of similar social background assumed more importance. The accuracy of the linear compensatory evaluation function declined through the life cycle.

Changes in leisure activities through the life cycle were found to have a major influence on residential area aspirations. Specifically, the family life cycle affects aspirations through desires for local participation in leisure activities during the child-rearing stages of the life cycle. Changes in the desired frequency of participation in leisure activities through the life cycle primarily had an independent influence on aspirations.

Residential history was of minor importance in explaining the effects of life cycle status on residential area aspirations. Changes in the length of residence in owned and single family houses were the only aspects of residential history which contributed to life cycle effects on aspirations. The result suggest that the relationship between residential history and aspirations reported in previous studies is due to variations in present housing type. In this study, where the majority of women lived in owned single family houses, prior residential experience had little effect on aspirations.

Overall, the results show that the family life cycle has significant effects on residential evaluation beyond its well documented influence on desires for dwelling space. Changes in family roles rather than household size emerged as the most important dimension of life cycle status. These life cycle effects extend beyond the transition from the childless to the child-rearing periods of the life cycle. The return to a childless household has equally significant effects on residential area evaluation. These results extend and clarify our understanding of the effects of the family life cycle on the evaluation of residential locations.

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