Mark Kleinman’s new book explains what has happened to housing policy in Europe over the last two decades, and what housing policy can tell us about welfare development more generally over the period.
Housing, Welfare and the State in Europe identifies a divergence in housing policy between, on the one hand, the majority of relatively affluent households and, on the other, an impoverished minority. The legal, financial and economic concerns of the well-housed, owner-occupier majority have preoccupied public policy across Europe, with the impoverished minority often badly housed or homeless. In Britain this has been particularly evident with elections won and lost on the level of the mortgage rate rather than the level of housing output, and still less on the level of homelessness.
Housing policy occupies a unique place in public policy at the intersection of social with economic policy, involving a mixed economy of welfare. Consequently, Dr Kleinman’s study offers insights into the future direction of public policy as a whole, the balance between economic and social goals, and the relative weighting given to free markets and state intervention in a variety of countries.