The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has suggested offering cash incentives to encourage older people to move out of larger homes to free up properties for families.
According to the think tank, around 26,000 couples are empty nesters and living in large homes on their own.
These people are over the age of 50 and in homes with four or more rooms.
Nama has previously suggested that older parents could be given financial incentives to leave their large homes, allowing for them to be bought by families.
First-time buyers are currently struggling to get on the property ladder because of a lack of a supply and the cost of deposits required.
In a new academic paper on incentivising older people to move house, the ESRI said there was little evidence that elderly people regularly move home in this country.
Looking at people aged 50-plus over the course of three years, it found just 3.1pc moved home during this time.
And unlike some other countries, there is no evidence of older people moving out of Dublin or urban areas into rural areas.
The ESRI report did note that a large number of older people living alone are already in small homes – so there wouldn’t necessarily be a bonanza of large homes available under an incentive scheme.
However, it also noted “a reasonable proportion of older couples living in houses with seven or more rooms.”
Three out of 10 of those over the age of 50 are in homes of seven or more rooms, which equals about 26,000.
But the report found there were social disadvantages to getting empty nesters to move out. The ESRI says large numbers of older people living alone did not have children.
Co-author Dr Alan Barrett said: “While the data shows scope to achieve greater availability of housing through incentivising mobility of older people, any such policy should consider the potential for social isolation among older people who move to an unfamiliar area.”
The ESRI does not state what incentives could be put in place to get empty nesters to downsize, but they could include a dropping of property tax for a period, or a subsidy for moving.
The new ESRI report, in response to the housing crisis, came as a separate study revealed that just 8,000 homes were started last year.