Housing Policy in Europe

Housing Policy in Europe

Housing Policy in Europe

Housing Policy in Europe

Synopsis

Housing Policy in Europeprovides a comprehensive introduction to the economic, political and social issues of housing across the continent.
The changing policy and practice of housing in fifteen countries from across Northern, Western, Southern and Central Europe are described, analyzed and compared.
The book explains why different systems of tenure are dominant in different groups of countries, and the extent to which housing policies within these countries conform to different welfare systems.
It reveals how owner-occupation has taken over from social housing as the chosen system of tenure and how this reflects a political and economic shift, from social democracy or communism to neo-liberalism across Europe.

Excerpt

Despite or because of the traumas of two world wars and the rise to power of fascism and communism within the first half of the twentieth century, economic and social policies in much of Europe during the last fifty years have been formulated and applied within a more stable political environment than hitherto, and conditioned to a greater or lesser extent by the parameters of western liberal democracy. Within most of western Europe, specific policies were often the outcome of either Keynesian or social-market economic policy wedded to a belief in a welfare state—reinforced in the early post-war years by Marshall Aid in those countries worst afflicted by the destruction of 1939-45, and subsequently by the Monnet-Schuman plan for an eventual European political union. Housebuilding on a massive scale (often heavily subsidised) began to erode serious shortages by the 1960s, the development of the social-rental sector in many countries was considered to be a crucial means of alleviating housing need, and wider home-ownership as a long-term goal was increasingly assisted by tax relief and exemptions. There was, moreover, a general ‘consensus’ between ‘left of centre’ and ‘right of centre’ parties in respect of housing policy and its future direction.

By the mid-1970s, however, the consensus began to break down. The oil crisis of 1973-74 heralded a period of ‘stagflation’ throughout much of the world when both the level of unemployment and the rate of inflation began to soar towards unprecedented heights. Monetarism was increasingly applied as a means of combating inflation, and public expenditure cuts as a perceived way of reducing the money supply and resurrecting a ‘free market’ was soon adopted as the central strategy of ‘right of centre’ governments—most notably in the United Kingdom under Thatcherism in the 1980s. Housing investment and housebuilding consequently diminished, the size of the social-rented sector was reduced in a number of countries—in large part through processes of privatisation, subsidies were diverted from supply to targeted demand, whereas, for reasons of ideology, the owner-occupied sector continued to receive substantial fiscal assistance. Only in a few countries, and particularly in the Netherlands and Sweden, was this . . .

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