Comparison of Housing Systems and Policies

In Part II of this chapter, we move to compare housing systems, policies and outcomes across a range of industrialised countries, drawing out both commonalities and differences. We start by considering the challenges facing housing systems and how these are changing. We then look at some of the ‘big ideas’ in comparative housing research and particularly theories about ‘convergence’ versus ‘path dependence’ and about ‘welfare regimes’. After reflecting briefly on the contrast between housing issues in developing/rapidly urbanising countries and the mature industrialised countries which are our main focus, we conclude the chapter by looking at summary empirical measures of housing outcomes across the latter countries.

Challenges Facing Housing Systems

As signalled in Chap. 1, we identify several overarching challenges which face housing systems today and for the foreseeable future. The first concerns poverty and the distribution of income and wealth—which we identified earlier as the primary motivator of government involvement in housing. The second concerns demographics, particularly the implications of migration and ageing. The third challenge comes, of course, from concern about the environment and climate change (both mitigation and adaptation). The final challenge is to find and implement models for urban living which are sustainable in all ways.

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