HOWCOME - Changing Housing Regimes and Trends in Social and Economic Inequality
HOWCOME is the first comprehensive interdisciplinary study into the so far unrecognized interplay between two major social trends of the post-war period: the upward trend in economic inequality, and the increase of homeownership across the Western world.
The Interplay between the Upward Trend in Homeownership and Income Inequality in Advanced Welfare Democracies: Interacting Causes and Consequences of Social Inequality in Different Institutional Settings
ERC Starting Grant
Funded by the European Research Council
Grant Agreement No. 283615
Duration: 60 months (February 2012 - May 2017)
- To what extent is housing (wealth) a dimension of social stratification? Did changes in housing systems over time widen the gap between social groups, or not?
- How do housing trajectories over the life course influence the extent of economic inequality within and between generations differently in different countries?
- Do changes in the economic fortune of different income groups influence their behaviour on the housing market, altering the access to decent and affordable housing?
- Are trends in economic inequality linked to trends in house prices, tenure and affordability for owners and renters?
- Did the ideological change from 'housing as a shelter' to 'homeownership as an investment' render people less solidary and less supportive of redistribution by the welfare state?
- Is homeownership a family-friendly or family-unfriendly policy
- Does real or perceived housing wealth impact on demographic behaviour and labour market participation?
- Is 'state-supported' homeownership an expensive way of housing the population, and why do policy-makers think it to be better or cheaper?
These are the type of research questions which are at the heart of the HOWCOME-project.
HOWCOME is the first comprehensive interdisciplinary study into the so far unrecognised interplay between two major social trends of the post-war period: the upward trend in economic inequality, and the increase of homeownership across the Western world. Using a comparative perspective, the project aims at constructing a unified account by means of a systematic analysis of:
- the 'driving forces' of both social trends;
- the ways in which the upswing in economic inequality and changing housing regimes might reinforce or counteract each other and hence lead to a redistribution of social and economic risks;
- how the statistical relationships between variables at the macro-level play out in diverse institutional settings, looking through a more in-depth historical-comparative lens;
- how the macro-level relationships between both social trends are negotiated by households and individuals as their housing, labour market and family trajectories unfold;
- how households and individuals negotiate between their perceptions of the economic benefits and risks associated with homeownership and the 'real-life'-opportunities and constraints; and
- how these perceptions have changed over time as a result of increased inequality and/or changes in housing regimes.
Answers will be provided by means of a multi-method and cross-nationally comparative research design. In four subprojects, HOWCOME will look at these issues through various lenses, using diverse methods of analysis. We take a longitudinal-historical approach, focusing on the post-war era. Our scope ranges from large-scale quantitative analysis of country-level data and of individual retrospective and prospective housing, labour and family trajectories to the comparative study of institutional developments.
One of HOWCOME's aims is to tie relevant findings from different disciplines (sociology, economics, political sciences, housing studies, demography) together and show that studying these trends from different angles leads to the formulation of new and exciting research questions, which also have a clear policy relevance. The interplay between the upswing in income inequality and the rise of homeownership is analysed at different layers of society, tying them together in a systematic way. Large-scale social changes are linked to specific institutional settings, but also to the attitudes of people living in these institutional environments and to individual life courses.
There are also important synergies with other ERC Starting Grants:
HOUWEL - Housing Markets and Welfare State Transformations, with Dr. Richard Ronald as Principal Investigator, University of Amsterdam, NL
REFCOM - The Real Estate/Financial Complex, with Dr. Manuel Aalbers as Principal Investigator, Catholic University of Leuven, BE.
HOWCOME consists of four subprojects, carried out by:
- Caroline Dewilde - Principal investigator
- Stéfanie André - PhD-student
Tilburg University thesis - The two sides of homeownership: security and insecurity: A comparative approach to the effects of housing tenure and housing wealth on political attitudes, political behavior and subjective wellbeing
- Barend Wind - PhD-student
Tilburg University thesis - Housing wealth in Europe: Institutions and inequality
- Philipp Lersch - Postdoctoral researcher
- Adriana Soaita - Postdoctoral researcher
- Christa Hubers - Postdoctoral researcher
Caroline Dewilde: C.L.Dewilde@tilburguniversity.edu