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Political Science in Europe

Housing Policy in Europe: Comparative Perspectives

European Union
Social Policy
Social Welfare
Welfare State
Comparative Perspective
Kai Schulze
Technische Universität Darmstadt
Kai Schulze
Technische Universität Darmstadt
Björn Egner
Technische Universität Darmstadt

Housing absorbs the lion’s share of most households’ income. Housing policies, i.e. the policies that directly shape the availability, accessibility, and affordability of housing, thus play a major role in determining individual welfare. Against this background, it is surprising that comparative welfare state research and studies in comparative public policy have paid only very limited attention to housing policies. In fact, housing policies differ markedly across countries and have developed their own regulatory profiles relating to varying housing stocks and needs. However, we lack systematic comparative knowledge about the goals, instruments and actors of national housing policy. This is even more unfortunate in times where the housing sector faces new challenges like the Global Financial Crisis or an increasing EU influence. Addressing these shortcomings, this paper develops a conceptual framework for comparing national housing policies, actors, and potential outcomes. We illustrate our approach for the EU-28 countries and show how the regulation of housing markets with traditionally high private-sector involvement performs important welfare functions. Our analysis aims at shedding new light on varying patterns of regulatory governance and welfare provisions of housing markets which are not well understood from a comparative perspective.
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