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Reference Housing Costs for Adequate Dwellings in Ten European Capitals

Providing adequate housing at affordable prices remains a challenge for all welfare states. As part of a pilot project for developing a common methodology for reference budgets in the European Union, reference rents and other housing costs (energy, taxes, maintenance) corresponding to adequate dwellings for four hypothetical households living in nine capital regions of the EU were estimated. In this paper, we discuss the approach that we have taken. Quality criteria for adequate housing were derived from EU indicators of housing deprivation, and the recent UK Housing Standards Review. We used data from the Study of Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) of 2012. Unsurprisingly, the estimates of reference rents vary strongly across capitals, reflecting cross-national differences in the level of the average rent. By contrast, other housing costs, which mainly reflect energy costs, vary much less.

29.6.2016 | Karel Van den Bosch, Tim Goedemé, Nathalie Schuerman, Bérénice Storms | Volume: 3 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 1-9 | 10.13060/23362839.2016.2.1.248

Housing as Asset Based Welfare: A Comment

This paper aims to provide a contribution to the debate about housing as asset based welfare begun in this journal in 2015. It suggests that there are strong reasons associated with life cycle earnings and consumption why owner-occupation can be a desirable option, especially for older households. However owner-occupation can be a high risk option for less well-off households while increasing both inequality across income groups and particularly through its impact on inter-generational income and wealth. Even so, housing inequalities, despite all the market failures associated with its provision and allocation, are more an outcome of broader economic fundamentals. Moreover housing policies can improve the lived experience for many. Policies should aim to provide a tenure neutral-taxation environment but also to reduce credit and other constraints to entering owner-occupation. At the same time there must be support for those with inadequate income to achieve acceptable housing standards.

28.6.2016 | Christine Whitehead | Volume: 3 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 10-18 | 10.13060/23362839.2016.3.1.249

The Use of Esping-Andersen and Kemeny’s Welfare and Housing Regimes in Housing Research

This article provides a critique of the use of Esping-Andersen and Kemeny’s typologies of welfare and housing regimes, both of which are often used as starting points for country selections in comparative housing research. We find that it is conceivable that housing systems may reflect the wider welfare system or diverge from it, so it is not possible to “read across” a housing system from Esping-Andersen’s welfare regimes. Moreover, both are dated and require revisiting to establish whether they still reflect reality. Of the two frameworks, Esping-Andersen’s use of the state-market-family triangle is more geographically mobile. Ultimately, housing systems are likely to be judged on the “housing outcomes” that they produce. However, it is suggested that current use of variables within EU-SILC in order to establish “housing outcomes” may be misleading since they do not reflect acceptable standards between countries with greatly differing general living standards and cultural norms.

27.6.2016 | Mark Stephens | Volume: 3 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 19-29 | 10.13060/23362839.2016.3.1.250

The Apartment with the Best Floor Plan Layout: Architects versus Non-architects

This study examined differences in the floor-plan preferences of architects and laypersons with no architectural education or experience (non-architects). Qualitative data on floor-plan preferences were collected using interviews and an online survey. The floor plans used in the online survey were differentiated primarily by spatial arrangements and included the original layout of a socialist prefab apartment and two contemporary redesigns of the space. The results showed significant differences in the floor-plan preferences of architects and non-architects. Topological properties of layout and a required level of privacy were identified as key factors influencing the between-group differences. Architects and non-architects disagreed in particular over how the public and private zones were defined and arranged in the apartment layouts. From the perspective of architectural practice, understanding non-architects’ preferences can decrease the uncertainty in new product development for an unknown end user and increase residential satisfaction.

26.6.2016 | Irena Boumová, Jana Zdráhalová | Volume: 3 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 30-41 | 10.13060/23362839.2016.3.1.264