The Politics of Housing Policy


Project Term: 1.4.2018 – 1.4.2020

Funding: Fritz Thyssen Stiftung

Team: Georg Wenzelburger, Alexander von Kulessa (Principal Investigator)

Project Description:

Housing is the largest single item in most households’ budgets. For owners, acquiring their home is generally the biggest investment in their lifetime. In sum, housing plays a major part in shaping living standards and life opportunities. It is surprising that housing policy, i.e. the set of policies shaping directly these crucial outcomes, has attracted comparatively little attention in Comparative Public Policy research. Moreover, the multi-level structure of housing policy which involves national, regional, but also – and most importantly – municipal actors, has been widely neglected. Against this background and armed with the analytical weapons of Political Science, this research project aims at making a fourfold contribution to the study of housing policy and its politics:

First, it strives to develop a new theoretical perspective on housing policies that entails the welfare-related and distributional aspects of housing policy.

Secondly, the project aims at collecting data on housing policy for a large sample of major cities across 13 OECD-states. Hence, the study is one of the first to specifically account for the multi-level and particularly the municipal structure of housing policy. The data collection is the core objective of the project and the assembled Housing Policy Dataset will be made available for further research.

Thirdly, the study will enrich the existing literature on the politics of housing policy, dominated by sociologists and economists, by drawing on the theories and results of studies in Political Science. It will focus on partisan theory as well as institutional theories to explain the cross-national and cross-municipal variance in housing policies. As a positive side effect, the study will also advance the discourse on the politics on sub-national levels of government.

Finally, the research project aims to advance research on housing policy and its politics methodologically by applying Cluster Analysis/Principal Component Analysis and Multi-Level-Regression in addition to illustrative case studies. So far, the use of quantitative methods has been rather scarce in the research area.