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Housing Provision, Finance, and Well-Being in Europe


  • Mary Robertson

    (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London)


This paper explores the role of housing in households’ increasing financial activities. First, I build on quantitative work on the growth of housing related debt across Europe carried out under WP5 by presenting data on rates of homeownership, levels and types of mortgage debt, and house prices (and, by implication, housing wealth). I find that, although there is a general tendency for all to increase, differences in the structures of housing provision across countries lead to significant variation in both the data, and what can be drawn from it, across countries. Second, I consider accounts of households’ growing financial activities that attribute a central role to housing, including Lapavitsas and Dos Santos’s ‘financial expropriation’ thesis, and a growing body of literature that sees Europe as moving towards a housing asset-based welfare model. I argue that both, in different ways, are insufficiently attentive to the way in which housing provision, the role of finance within it, and the relationship of both to the reproduction of labour power more generally, are all uniquely and distinctly structured in different countries. I also show that even in the UK, where the role of finance in housing and welfare provision is thought to be most advanced, the restructuring of housing and welfare in favour of finance remains limited and contradictory. Finally, I outline some preliminary findings on the impact that a growing tendency to treat one’s home as an asset has had on well-being.

Suggested Citation

  • Mary Robertson, 2014. "Housing Provision, Finance, and Well-Being in Europe," Working papers wpaper14, Financialisation, Economy, Society & Sustainable Development (FESSUD) Project.
  • Handle: RePEc:fes:wpaper:wpaper14

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    financialisation; housing; house prices; mortgage markets; systems of provision; well-being; asset-based welfare; financial expropriation; mortgage equity withdrawal.;

    JEL classification:

    • B59 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Other
    • D69 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Other
    • G10 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • G20 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - General
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • H39 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Other
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • P52 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - Comparative Studies of Particular Economies
    • R21 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Housing Demand

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