European Integration and Housing Policy/New Directions in Urban Public Housing/Rent Control: Regulation and the Rental Housing Market/Winners and Losers: Home Ownership in Modern Britain

Article excerpt

European Integration and Housing Policy, Mark Kleinman, Walter Matznetter and Mark Stephens (eds), London, Routledge for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, 1998, xi+ 307 pp., £65.00 (h/b), £19.99 (p/b)

New Directions in Urban Public Housing, David P. Varady, Wolfgang F. E. Preiser and Francis P. Russell (eds), New Brunswick, NJ, Centre for Urban Policy Research Press, Rutgers University, 1998, xviii + 287 pp., $19.95 (p/b)

Rent Control: Regulation and the Rental Housing Market, W. Dennis Keating, Michael B. Teitz and Andrejs Skaburskis (eds), New Brunswick, NJ, Centre for Urban Policy Research Press, Rutgers University, 1998, xiii + 246 pp., $14.95 (p/b)

Winners and Losers: Home Ownership in Modern Britain, Chris Hamnett, London, UCL Press, 1999, xiv + 224 pp., £14.99 (p/b)

The four books under review cover a good crosssection of recent research on housing in Europe and in North America.

Some of the chapters in the collection of papers on the housing aspects of European integration edited by Mark Kleinman and colleagues are examples of a new stage in European housing research. Much work has been done to examine the similarities and differences between the housing markets and housing systems of the member states of the European Union and also of those East European countries in transition from command to market economies following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Indeed, with respect to the latter there has been significant interest in how this transition impacts on the housing system, as markets replace reliance on the state as the principal mechanism for allocating scarce housing resources.

European Integration and Housing Policy reports on work that looks more at pan-European issues. It is the output of one of the working groups of the European Network for Housing Research-itself one of the more dynamic of the Europe-wide research networks, many of whose working groups have produced published work like this. While it includes several comparative chapters, its distinct focus is the impact that the single European market and the (at the time when the authors were drafting these chapters) proposed monetary union are likely to have on housing markets. As many of the book's authors stress, a key component of the Single European Act was mechanisms to ensure that the single market brought benefits to all regions and social groups. Although housing policy is not a responsibility of the EU, it is not possible to ignore the consequences of EU policies for national and regional housing systems. Nor is it possible to ignore the impact that national housing systems themselves may have on the attainment of EU objectives.

European Integration and Housing Policy covers four areas. First, an examination of the impact of integration on housing markets, including capital markets; second, an examination of the impact of EU policies on national housing system; the third section looks at the outcomes of housing policy across European states; the fourth part of the book consists of chapters examining housing provision and systems in the Nordic countries and former communist countries.

Inevitably, like most edited collections, this one has all the elements of the curate's egg. It suffers from the inevitable weakness of a book which appears to have been put together around papers submitted to one or more workshops or conferences, rather than invited contributions to a book with a pre-defined focus, so that the chapters do not all follow a unified theme (apart from being about European housing). Several appear to be rehashes of existing published work, including preécis of recently published books. Of the 15 chapters, those that report new work and/or specifically examine the consequences for national and regional housing systems of European integration are the most useful contributions.

Particularly useful chapters that fall into the European integration themes include that by Christine Whitehead examining the impact of integration on capital markets. …