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A tale of two inequalities: Housing-wealth inequality and tenure inequality
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social and Economic Geography.
2019 (English)In: Environment and planning A, ISSN 0308-518X, E-ISSN 1472-3409Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The growing significance of housing to wealth inequality in Western societies is now well recognised and widely debated. This paper argues that understanding of the nature and causes of this problem and discussions of potential approaches to addressing it through progressive policy responses are both hampered by adopting a partial perspective on the housing question. Focusing singularly on ownership – how it has been idealised and subsidised, how it might be democratised and so forth – has led to scholars and policymakers tending to neglect the other main tenure form, in strict relation with which ownership always exists both materially and discursively: rental. We can neither understand why and how today’s asset-based inequalities have materialised nor plot realistic and meaningful policy responses unless we conceptualise and approach ownership and rental relationally. Using the United Kingdom and Swedish cases as exemplars, and examining how relevant national policy realities and logics have been constructed over time, the paper further argues that the emergence of significant asset-based inequalities in recent decades is rooted in the policy-driven emergence of significant inequalities – ideological as much as economic – between tenure forms, whereby ownership has increasingly been privileged over rental. If Western societies are to have any credible prospect of reducing existing property asset-based inequalities, preventing those inequalities from being reproduced within younger generations and limiting the likelihood of the re-emergence of comparable inequalities in the future, (re)instituting principles and practices of tenure equality should be made a primary political and policy objective.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019.
National Category
Economic Geography
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URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-399628DOI: 10.1177/0308518x19876946OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-399628DiVA, id: diva2:1378766
Available from: 2019-12-13 Created: 2019-12-13 Last updated: 2020-02-06Bibliographically approved

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