Housing Provision, Finance, and Well-Being in Europe
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.
|Date of creation:||06 Mar 2014|
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