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What should we worry about when we worry about housing problems?

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What should we worry about when we worry about housing problems?. Inaugural lecture Rebecca Tunstall Director, Centre for Housing Policy, University of York Joseph Rowntree Professor of Housing Policy Becky.tunstall@york.ac.uk 30 th April 2012. sweets. Introduction. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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What should we worry about when we worry about housing problems?Inaugural lecture

Rebecca TunstallDirector, Centre for Housing Policy, University of YorkJoseph Rowntree Professor of Housing PolicyBecky.tunstall@york.ac.uk30th April 2012


3IntroductionThere are strong arguments for worrying about housing consumption in relative rather than absolute terms, where data and measures allowThis lecture presents a case study of relative housing consumption, measured via housing spaceUsing a long-term perspective, and relative measures, it argues that:We need to reassess assumptions about past achievements on overcrowdingHousing space inequality are similar to inequalities in income, and by some measures are growingNew space supply and demand problems appear to have emerged over the past 30 yearsCurrent policy will exacerbate inequalities, and old-fashioned absolute problems are on the increase.

4An experiment...Place APlace BThe average home has 6 rooms Your new home has 3 rooms Your new home has 2 roomsThe average home has 1 room5Absolute housing space standardsOvercrowdingHouseholds with fewer than 0.5/1/1.5 rooms per person (C19th-)

Bedroom standard (1960-)A bedroom for:Each married/cohabiting couple;Any other person aged 21+;Any pair aged 10-20 of the same sex;Any pair aged under 10.

Basis fore most social rented allocations today (Pawson et al. 2009)

8Arguments for worrying about housing space consumption in relative termsMore socially just?Relative standards accepted by experts and public for income; no reason not to apply to consumption tooHousing appears to be partly a positional good (Bramley et al. 2008, Marsh and Gibb 2011)Housing is important in social science partly because of role of housing inequality in stratification (Rex and Moore 1967, Bell 1977, Saunders 1990, Hamnett 1999, Malpass 2005)Current absolute standards challenged: very low now generally accepted as being completely unacceptable (ODPM 2004 npn)

9Data and measures used hereCensus of population, 1911-2001England and WalesRooms = count the kitchen as a room, but do not count scullery, landing, lobby, closet, bathroom, nor warehouse, office, shop (GRO 1913 p2). 1-bed flat with kitchen and living room = 3 rooms 3-bed house with kitchen, 2 living rooms = 6 rooms

Does not account for room size or typeApplied to individuals not householdsTreats all individuals the same way: no equivalisationExcludes non household populationExcludes second homesNo 2011 data yetAbsolute low consumption - overcrowding fell dramaticallyPercentage of people in households with less than one room per person, England and Wales, 1911-2001

Median housing space per person rose steadilyRooms per person

But experiences varied across the populationRooms per person by population decile

There was no change in housing space inequality according to the Gini measure

Ratios show falling and then rising inequality

Percentage of people below 60% median space shows the same trends

16Potential causes of rising housing space inequalityHousehold-home size mismatchBlockage of trickle down of spaceIncome inequality?Tenure change?

Increasingly, small households were well-housed due to a deficit of smaller homes1-person households with 4+ rooms

The best-housed gained more from new development, especially after 1991Percentage of net additional rooms held by different groups

Housing space inequality shows similar trends to income inequality90:10 and 50:10 ratiosIs there a link between relative housing space and housing tenure?Tenure composition of fifths of population by housing space, 200121Potential consequences of rising inequalityReduced happiness, well-being?Sustained or increased absolute low consumption?

Implications:Monitoring via relative standardsNew development?Redistribution?

22Potential relative housing space standardsLow relative housing space consumption standard:Below 60% median housing spaceIn 2001, below 1.9 rooms per person - generally above bedroom standard

Consensual standard (Bradshaw et al. 2008):Pensioner couple 2 bedrooms - bedroom standard +1All children own room - probably above bedroom standard

23The 1960 bedroom standard is now generally accepted as being completely unacceptable (ODPM 2004 npn)

It places most individuals:In worst housed fifth for 2001Below 60% median spaceBelow consensual standardAt what median person had achieved by 1921

24The strange re-emergence of the politics of housing spaceNew space policies:The single room rent and extension puts people below the bedroom standardThe benefit cap may be at/below bedroom standardThe bedroom tax at bedroom standard

Significant reduction in welfare rightsRegressive redistribution of space?Likely to result in increase in old-fashioned overcrowding

25ConclusionThere are strong arguments for worrying about housing consumption in relative rather than in absolute terms, where data and measures allow

Relative measures suggest:We need to reassess assumptions about past achievements on low housing space: overcrowding could have been reduced fasterHousing space inequality are similar to inequalities in income, and by some measures are growingNew structural space supply and demand problems appear to have emerged over the past 30 years: size mismatch, trickle down blockage

Current policy will exacerbate inequalities, and old-fashioned absolute problems may be on the increase.

26ReferencesBell, C. (1977), On housing classes Journal of Sociology 13(1):36-40Bradshaw, J.; Middleton, S., Davis, A., Oldfield, N., Smith, N., Cusworth, L., and Williams, J, (2008), A minimum income standard for Britain: What people think, York, JRFBramley, G., Leishman, C. and Watkins, D. (2008) Understanding neighbourhood housing markets: regional context, disequilibrium, sub-markets and supply; Housing Studies 23(2) pp179-212Hamnett, C. (1999), Winners and losers: Home ownership in modern Britain, London, UCLMalpass, P. (2005), Housing and the welfare state: The development of housing policy in Britain, Basingstoke, Palgrave MacmillanMarsh, A and Gibb, K (2011) Uncertainty, expectations and behavioural aspects of housing market choices, Housing, Theory and Society, 28(3), pp215-235Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (2004), Overcrowding in England: The national and regional picture: Statistics, London, ODPMPawson, H., Brown, C. and Jones, A. (2009) Exploring local authority policy and practice on housing allocations, London: Communities and Local GovernmentRex, J. and Moore, R. (1967), Race, community and conflict: A study of Sparkbrook, Oxford: Oxford University PressRowntree, B. S. (1901), Poverty: A study of town life, London, Macmillan and Co.Rowntree, B. S. (1985), Poverty and progress, New York, Garland PublishersSaunders, P. (1990), A nation of home owners, London, Allen and UnwinStephens, M., Fitzpatrick, S., Elsinga, M., van Steen, G., and Chzhen, E. (2010), Study on housing exclusion: Welfare policies, housing provision and labour markets, Brussels, European CommissionWoolf, V. (1991), A room of ones own London, Hogarth Press.

2627For more information:




50thRoooms per person

Sheet1Figure 4: Housing space consumption by population percentile 1911-200119111921193119511961197119811991200150th0.920.9711.231.241.451.51.671.88Note: The 90th percentile is the most generously housedSources: Censuses 1911-2001 (GRO 1913, 1925, 1935, 1956, 1964, OPCS 1974, www.casweb.mimas.ac.uk)


Total homes


Total homes


Mean rooms per person




50thRoooms per person


Gini coefficient


90th80th70th60th50th40th30th20th10thRooms per person

Sheet1All years chart - with mixup of 81 and 91 correctedGini coefficient191119211931195119611971198119912001rooms per person0.3491380.34360619940.3673670.36191474390.36320760330.36581920430.36821174520.3673670.3598938359??Iron law of constant inequality?Ho inequality in rooms ditrbutin compares to other forms of inequalityRateable value 1978Rateable value 1968Rooms 1921Rooms 1931Rooms 1911Rooms 2001Rooms 1951Rooms 1971Rooms 1961Rooms 1991Rooms 19810.270.310.34360619940.3479200000.3491380.35989383590.360.36174086260.36320760330.3673670.3682117452Sources: Robibson et al.19111921193119511961197119811991200190:10 ratio3.964.2643.483.313.312.9533.790: 50 ratio2.072.0621.891.981.961.861.891.7970: 30 ratio1.821.841.661.561.651.611.731.51.6850: 10 ratio1.922.0621.841.81.751.51.671.88Main finding is long-term stability )as with Gini)Comparing income and room rations191119211931195119611971198119912001Rooms 90:103.964.2643.483.313.312.9533.7Income (BHC) 90:103.2073.2763.2374.444.145Income (AHC) 90:103.2013.4403.4284.9224.924Rooms 50:101.922.0621.841.81.7501.51.671.88Income (BHC) 50:101.8561.8611.7732.1362.058Income (AHC) 50:101.8461.9101.8332.322.13191119211931195119611971198119912001Rooms 90:103.964.2643.483.313.312.9533.7Rooms 50:101.922.0621.841.81.7501.51.671.88Income (AHC) 50:101.8461.9101.8332.322.13Comparing income and room rations191119211931195119611971198119912001Rooms 90:103.964.2643.483.3

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