Conference: Housing Wealth and Welfare
25-26th May 2016
This conference brings together the latest theories and empirical findings in the dynamic research field surrounding housing wealth and welfare, taking into account the different meanings of ‘welfare’ – from welfare provision to well-being as well as situations indicating a ‘lack of welfare’, such as poverty and inequality.
Along with the proliferation of homeownership as well as volatile property price increases in recent decades, housing wealth has been increasingly eyed as a resource that can be drawn upon to support a variety of consumption and welfare needs. Becoming an owner-occupier has thus been recognized by households, governments and markets alike as a means to accumulate personal wealth that functions as private insurance against life-course risks such as unemployment, divorce and old age, as well as a way to pool shelter and share the benefits of asset accumulation with children. Changes in housing wealth have, however, also been associated with broader trends in inequality, within and between generations. Both the increasing importance of and growing inequalities in, housing wealth have begun to reshape policy approaches to housing and welfare, as well as the political economy of welfare states
This conference aims to bring together the latest theories and empirical findings in the dynamic research field surrounding housing wealth and welfare, taking into account the different meanings of ‘welfare’ – from welfare provision to well-being as well as situations indicating a ‘lack of welfare’, such as poverty and inequality. It does so with a cross-disciplinary focus that seeks to better unify sociological, economic, political, geographical and anthropological understandings of housing goods. The increased centrality of housing equity as both an investment and as collateral that may potentially finance other needs necessitates a fundamental change in the way we approach the relationship between housing and welfare, as well as the provision of both by states, markets and families. At the same time, the politics, culture and social economy of housing vary widely across advanced welfare states, demanding sensitivity to local contexts and their interaction with more global forces. A particular focus of the event will be the consideration of the findings of two recent European Research Council funded projects addressing housing wealth, welfare and inequality issues in cross-national contexts (HOUWEL and HOWCOME).