Research at TiSEM

Subprojects HOWCOME

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.

HOWCOME 1: INSTITUTIONS - Caroline Dewilde and Adriana Soaita

The main objective of this subproject is to link existing research on the driving forces of the upswing in economic inequality to literature on changing housing regimes. European housing regimes – broadly defined as systems of housing provision, allocation and consumption and their relations to other welfare regime arrangements – have undergone significant changes in recent decades, from the growth of owner-occupation and the deregulation of housing finance to the residualisation of social housing and the privatisation of former public housing stock in Eastern Europe. An upward trend in home-ownership rates and house prices coincided with a restructuring of the relationship between housing and the wider economy, leading to a higher exposure to housing market risks (house price booms and busts, overindebtness, affordability) in a number of European countries. Using a cross-national comparative perspective, the project aims at investigating different ways in which the upswing in economic inequality and changes in housing regimes might reinforce or counteract each other and hence lead to a redistribution of social and economic risks. Attention is paid to country/regime differences in terms of the institutional imbeddedness of housing in relation to other ways of welfare provision, and to differences in the meanings and uses of different tenure forms for different social groups across life-course stages.

HOWCOME 2: ATTITUDES - Stéfanie André

HOWCOME 2 is explicitly aimed at analysing aggregate attitudes of Europeans towards welfare provision in general and housing policies  (tax benefits for home-owners, social housing provision, housing subsidies, government control over the private rental sector, regulation of the mortgage industry) in particular. While HOWCOME 1 is more concerned with historical developments over time, HOWCOME 2 is aimed at explaining differences between countries, using appropriate analysis techniques such as multilevel modelling. Data from different national and international survey programs like the International Social Survey Program (ISSP), European Social Survey (ESS) and European Value Study (EVS) will be used. A major goal is to investigate if differences in attitudes between European citizens can be explained by (changing) housing policy regimes, as identified in HOWCOME 1. Another research question is whether attitudes of homeowners and renters are influenced differently by government policy and by macro-economic trends. Besides testing hypothesised mechanisms on a European or international sample, we intend to collect data in the Netherlands. This will allow us to test for often stated, but untested, assumptions and mechanisms on housing and attitudes.


While HOWCOME 1 and HOWCOME 2 look at macro-level changes in income inequality and homeownership rates, and link them to aggregate and individual attitudes of people towards welfare provision, social inequality and housing, in HOWCOME 3 macro-level changes are linked to individual lives. The main focus of this subproject is on the interplay – for different cohorts – between housing careers and other life-course trajectories, and on the outcome of different residential histories in terms of economic well-being, and income and wealth inequality in later life. The main data source is the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (, which contains data on wealth and income. Work careers, family histories and housing trajectories are available from SHARELIFE, the retrospective life histories collected in the third wave of the SHARE. Data from SHARE are furthermore harmonised with the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) and the US Health and Retirement Study, allowing for a broader selection of countries.

The focus is on topics such as the distribution of housing wealth across countries and cohorts; the importance of housing wealth for e.g. life chances, intergenerational solidarity and family relationships; differences in residential trajectories across countries and cohorts and in the way different residential trajectories influence the opportunity for wealth accumulation; determinants and outcomes of tenure transitions across the life course, within the context of changes in families, welfare states and housing regimes.


In HOWCOME 4, the focus is on the conditions of entering homeownership in recent years in Europe and on changes in individuals’ life courses that are associated with this transition to homeownership. Prospective household panel data for a number of European countries are used to chart who makes the transition into owner-occupation, how this transition relates to the economic situation of the household (both before and after the transition), and what the social and economic consequences are, both in the short-term and in the medium-term. The subproject also considers distributional outcomes of homeownership. By looking at changes in individual attitudes, there is a direct link with HOWCOME 1 and HOWCOME 2, which focus on historical changes and cross-country differences in public attitudes. While HOWCOME 3 focuses on Europe’s elderly, HOWCOME 4 looks at the generations who currently settle down, have children and do or do not buy homes. The subproject uses comparative household panel data from the European Community Household Panel (ECHP) and the European Union Statistics of Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC). For a selected number of countries the existing national household panels will be analysed, such as the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS, since 1991, now incorporated in the UK Longitudinal Survey), the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP, since 1984), and the Belgian Household Panel Study (PSBH, 1992-2002).