Prediction Is Difficult

The Future of Housing Policy and Housing Studies

Authored by: Alan Mallach

The Routledge Handbook of Housing Policy and Planning

Print publication date:  July  2019
Online publication date:  July  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138188433
eBook ISBN: 9781315642338
Adobe ISBN:


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Despite remarkable progress since the end of World War II, developed nations continue to face severe housing challenges. Cost burdens, neighborhood decline, and the integration of growing minority and immigrant communities are widespread problems, while at the same time many nations are grappling with population decline, the challenges of excess housing supply, and housing vacancy. Overall, the prognosis for housing policy in most developed nations over the coming decade is problematic. The global environment seems unlikely to offer either the political stability or sustained economic growth on which strong policy development is likely to depend, while the complexity and highly contested nature of emerging housing policy challenges make it even less likely that many nations are likely to tackle them, whether for economic, political, cultural, or other reasons. While a few countries will maintain high levels of investment in housing and urban revitalization, the overall trend is likely to be one of retrenchment or at best stabilization of effort. Likely outcomes will be the gradual aggravation of housing problems in many if not most developed nations, including increased cost burdens, deterioration of older housing estates, and growing social, spatial, and economic disparities; and in some countries, problems associated with shrinking urban populations. Incremental change, rather than any dramatic shift in focus, is likely to be true of the housing studies field over the coming decade. The field’s focus on the housing issues of marginalized populations, and the relationship between housing and social integration, already strong, may grow. More policy-oriented research may emerge in such areas as the challenges of resource allocation under economic constraints and the roles of critical sub-state actors, as well as more cross-national research. Finally, as urban shrinkage becomes more widespread, policy issues flowing from shrinkage, including market failure and excess housing supply, are likely to draw increasing attention.

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