Beverley A Searle

Dr Beverley Searle

Head of Geography

  • Tel: +44 (0)1382 386350
  • Email:
  • School of the Environment, University of Dundee, Perth Rd, Dundee, DD1 4HN


Research Interests

I am mostly interested in subjective wellbeing and welfare. In particular the role of assets (financial, physical and human) in securing personal wellbeing over the life course.   To-date my research has focussed on how home owners value and use their housing wealth in securing the welfare of families.  In the context of ageing societies and economic uncertainties, this work considers the changing patterns of wealth transfers, sustainability of asset-based welfare and the implications for current as well as future generations.

I am seeking to broaden my expertise embracing the connections between individual subjective wellbeing and: 1) inequalities and opportunities over the life course; 2) the wellbeing of communities; and 3) environmental wellbeing.

Research Focus

International, interdisciplinary research on subjective wellbeing and welfare cutting across geography, psychology, social policy, sociology, demography and economics. This includes three key research areas, and two cross-cutting themes:

  • Individual subjective wellbeing
  • The role of assets in the provision of welfare
  • Inequalities, in the transfer of wealth and transmission of poverty

Cross-cutting theme:

  • Interdisciplinary, mixed methods for understanding individual decisions, motivations and behaviours and the consequences for wellbeing and welfare.   
  • Developing a greater understanding of the links between behaviour, wellbeing and resilience.   

Research Grants 

Collective learning journeys to build capacity for strategic action to enhance resilience in climate disadvantaged communities.  Joseph Rowntree Foundation - Local climate resilient futures:  action research and evaluation (£99,948) January 2014 -  April 2015.  With Ioan Fazey (PI), Jasper Kenter (SAMS), Tony Hodgson (International Futures Forum), Jim Fraser (Scottish Borders Council).

Enhancing wellbeing:  inclusive, collaborative, design-led approaches to place-making (£3,000) Carnegi Foundation/University of Dundee Public Engagement Project grant.  With Husam Al Wear (PI), Barbara Illsley, Ioan Fazey, Dundee.

‘Home not housing:  engaging with wellbeing outcomes’.   Scottish Universities Insight Institute Wellbeing Programme 2013-4 (£22,538), with Deborah Peel (PI, Dundee) and Douglas Robertson (PI, Stirling), Thilo Kroll (Dundee), Martin Higgins (NHS Lothian), Lisa Pattoni (Glasgow), Rosemary Brotchie (Shelter Scotland), James Mitchell (Edinburgh).   

Savings, Assets, Wealth and Poverty: A review of evidence 2013-14 (£10,000) Joseph Rowntree Foundation Programme to develop an Anti-Poverty Strategy. PI with Stephan Köppe, Dundee.

INTEGRATE:  International Network of Generational Transfers Research.  ESRC International Partnerships Network Scheme 2012-2014 (£25,000).  PI with Tomas Kostelecky (IOS, Czech Republic), Marja Elsinga (Delft, Netherlands), Shin Iwata (Toyama, Japan), Martin Kohli (European University Institute), Peter Lloyd-Sherlock (East Anglia).  

Mind the (housing) Wealth Gap:  Intergenerational Transfers and Family Welfare.  Leverhulme Research Grant 2012-2015 (£0.7m).  PI with Lorna Fox O’Mahony (Essex), Duncan Maclennan and Kim McKee (St Andrews), Karen Rowlingson (Birmingham).  

Impact analysis of Housing Associations Employment and Skills Work. National Housing Federation 2011-2012 (£20,437), with Darja Reuschka (PI) and Charles Lovett, St Andrews.    

Resilient Futures, EPSRC/ESRC Next Generation Resilience funding programme (2010-2013) (£1.4m), with Seth Bullock (PI, Southampton), Andrew Dainty (Loughborough),  Richard Dawson (Newcastle) Pete Fussey (East London), Jonathan Rigg (Durham), Brooke Rogers (KCL)andJon Timmis (York).    

Pathways of Housing Wealth and Well-being. ESCR 2007-2009 (£185,000), (with joint funding from the Wolfson Research Institute, Durham University).  PI with Susan Smith (Cambridge), Sarah Curtis (Durham).  


Academic Background

2009   Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, Durham University

2005   PhD on Understanding Subjective Well-being: A study of British adults aged 25 years and over, Department of Social Policy and Social Work,University of York

2001   BA(Hons) Social Policy, 1st Class with Distinction, University of York



Head of Geography, University of Dundee 


Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, Geography,University of Dundee


Principal Co-ordinator, INTEGRATE: International Network of Generational Transfers Research.


Principal Investigator, Mind the (Housing) Wealth Gap:  Intergenerational Justice and Family welfare.   


Research Fellow (including Acting Director Feb-August 2013), Centre for Housing Research, School of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St Andrews.


Lecturer in Human Geography, Department of Geography,  Durham University   


Principal Investigator (UK Team): ‘Pathways of Housing Wealth and Well-being’ project, Department of Geography, Durham University.   


Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Geography, Durham University


Personal/Policy Assistant to Director of Housing and Social Services,  City of York Council.  

Professional Membership


Housing Studies Association

European Network of Housing Research (2010-2014)

International Society for Quality of Life Studies (2001-2006)

Social Policy Association (1998-2005)

Professional Roles

Abertay Housing Association, General Member of Committee of Management (2013-2015)

Housing Studies Association Executive Committee, Treasurer (2012-15), and Co-ordinator (with one other) of 2014 Annual Conference

European Network of Housing Research (on organising Committee for 2014 Annual Conference)

ESRC Peer Review College

Science peer reviewer for Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, Government of New Zealand.

PhD Supervision

Marisol Lopez, Collaborative PhD with Dundee City Council: Achieving Fairness?  Evaluation of poverty alleviation strategies

Kate Cochrane. PhD Candidate attached to the Resilient Future Project:  The evolution of community resilience 

Rowena Hay PhD Candidate with Home Group:  Flexible Housing Tenures Across the Life Course (completed 2015). 



Soaita S and Searle BA (forthcoming, 2016) ‘Debt amnesia:  homeowners’ discourses on the financial costs and gains of homebuying’, in press for Environment and Planning A.

Soaita S and Searle BA (2015) Homebuying:  a Critical Perspective on Financial Costs and Gains, Critical Housing Analysis, 2, 1, 65-73

Searle BA and McCollum D (2014) Property-based welfare and the search for generational equality, International Journal of Housing Policy, 14, 4, 325-343

Searle BA and Köppe S (2014) Savings, assets, wealth and poverty:  A review of evidence.  Final report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.  Bristol: Personal Finance Research Centre. 

Ong, R, Parkinson, S, Searle, BA, Smith, SJ and  Wood G (2013) Channels from housing wealth to consumption. Housing Studies, 28, 7, 1012-1036

Wood, G., Parkinson, S., Searle, B. A. and Smith, S. J (2013) Motivations for equity borrowing: a welfare switching effect. Urban Studies,50, 12, 2588-2607

Cook N, Smith SJ, Searle BA (2013) Debted Objects: Homemaking in an Era of Mortgage-Enabled Consumption.  Housing, Theory and Society, 30, 3, 293-211

Searle BA (2012) Recession Repossession and Family Welfare.  Child and Family Law Quarterly, 24, 1, 1-23.

Searle BA (2012) Asset-Based Well-being:  Use Versus Exchange Value, International Encyclopaedia of Housing and Home, 87-92, (available on-line: )

Lowe SG, Searle BA, Smith SJ (2011) From Housing Wealth to Mortgage debt: the emergence of Britain’s asset-shaped welfare state.  Journal of Social Policy and Society, Themed Section, Household Finances Under Pressure: What is the Role of Social Policy, 11, 1, 105-116

Searle BA (2011) Recession and Housing Wealth, Journal of Financial Economic Policy, Special Issue: 33, 1, 33-48

Parkinson S, Searle B A, Smith S J, Stokes A and Wood G (2009) Mortgage Equity Withdrawal in Australia and Britain: towards a wealth-fare state? European Journal of Housing Policy, 9, 4, 363-387.

Cook N, Smith S J and Searle B A (2009) Mortgage markets and cultures of consumption, Consumption, Markets and Culture, 12, 2, 133-154.

Searle B A, Smith S J and Cook N (2009) From housing wealth to well-being? Sociology of Health and Illness, 31, 1, 112-127

Smith S J, Searle B A and Cook N (2009) Rethinking the risks of home ownership, Journal of Social Policy, 38, 1, 83-102

Smith, S J and Searle, B A (2008) Dematerialising money: the ebb and flow of wealth between housing and other things, Housing Studies, 23, 1, 21-43.

Books/Book Chapters

Searle BA and Köppe (forthcoming 2016) Housing wealth and welfare over the life course.  In Dewilde C and Ronald R (ed) Housing Wealth and Welfare

Searle BA and Köppe (forthcoming 2016) The Geographies of Debt.  In R Martin and J Pollard (eds) Handbook of the Geographies of Money and Finance 

Smith S J and Searle B A (eds) (2010)  A Blackwell companion to the  economics of housing; the housing wealth of nations, Oxford and Malden,MA, Wiley-Blackwell

Searle B A (2008) Well-being: In search of a good life?, Policy Press,Bristol

Searle BA and Smith S J (2010) Housing Wealth as Insurance: Insights from the UK in Smith SJ and Searle BA (eds), The Blackwell companion to the economics of housing; the housing wealth of nations,Oxford and Malden,MA, Wiley-Blackwell

Smith SJ, Searle BA and Powells G (2010) Introduction in Smith SJ and Searle BA (eds), The Blackwell companion to the economics of housing; the housing wealth of nations,Oxford and Malden,MA, Wiley-Blackwell

Searle B A (2007) Promoting Well-being: A British Perspective, in Estes R J (ed) Advancing Quality of Life in A Turbulent world, Social Indicators Research Series 29, Springer, The Netherlands (pp25-40)

Finch N and Searle B A (2005) ‘Children’s Lifestyles’, in Bradshaw J and Mayhew E (eds) The Well-being of Children in the UK, Second Edition,  Save the Children, London

Quilgars D, Searle B A and Keung A (2005) ‘Mental health and well-being’, in Bradshaw J and Mayhew E (eds) The Well-being of Children in the UK, Second Edition,  Save the Children, London

Searle B A (2002) ‘Youth Suicide’ in Bradshaw J (ed) The Well-being of children in the UK, Save the Children, London

Searle B A (2002) ‘Diet and Nutrition’ in Bradshaw J (ed) The Well-being of Children in the UK, Save the Children, London

Other publications

Searle BA (2014) Help to Wealth-fare? Discover Society Blog

Searle BA (2014) A changing market for providers, Housing LIN

Mind the Housing Wealth Gap Project Briefings available at:

Searle BA and Maclennan (2013) Changing Times, Changing Context.  In Maclennan and Chisholm (eds) New Times, New Business:  Housing Provision in Times of Austerity, University of St Andrews.

Searle BA (2012)  Housing wealth:  will the next generation pay the price?, Editorial, ENHR Newsletter, March.

Searle BA, Smith SJ and Curtis (2010) Pathways of Housing Wealth and Well-being. End of Award Report (ESRC) available at:

Smith S J, Searle B A and Cook N (2007) Banking on Housing Announcement of Findings series: available at:

Smith S J, Cook N and Searle B A (2006) From canny consumer to care-full citizen: towards a nation of home stewardship?.  An ESRC/AHRC Cultures of Consumption Programme Working Paper. 

Bradshaw J and Searle B A (2001) A Comparative Database of Economic Indicators of the  Well-Being Of Children -


Searle BA (2005), Understanding Well-being: A study of British adults aged 25 years and over, Department of Social Policy and Social Work,University of York,U.K.