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Name: Alejandro Fernandez

Affiliation: TU Delft

Position: PhD Researcher

The Role of Mortgage Subsidies in the Croatian Economic Growth Strategy: a Political-Economy Approach to the SSK

Since 2017, Croatian housing policy has focused on promoting homeownership through the SSK programme – a form of mortgage subsidisation that covers a proportion of housing costs. Although this policy aimed to improve affordability and increase homeownership, a recent economic evaluation has shown that the SSK has in fact contributed to rising house prices and has been ineffective at raising the homeownership rate. While econometric research has identified the impact that the SSK has had on house price volatility and affordability, the underlying factors leading to the implementation of this subsidy, as well as its broader societal impacts, remain under-researched. Through a political-economy lens, this paper analyses the context that led to the inception of the SSK, its core targeting principles, and its impact on the housing market. We ask: How does this subsidy position the Croatian housing market within the national strategy for economic growth and social policy provision?  We argue that this policy’s impact on housing markets is twofold. First, the SSK reinforces a shift towards financialised growth through increased asset prices. Second, this subsidy shifts the focus of social policy towards mortgage markets, thereby furthering the privatisation of the welfare state and favouring middle-income groups. This paper’s contribution resides in critically discussing the SSK beyond its stated goals and contextualising it within the broader model of economic growth dependent on private finance. Through interviews with relevant stakeholders, descriptive data indicators, and a review of policy documents, this paper characterises the Croatian growth strategy as a form of small-scale financialisation that relies on aligning social policy with mortgage markets. Finally, we position the SSK within a wider array of finance-led housing policies and suggest the formulation of a comprehensive housing strategy tailored to the broader segments of Croatian society.

16.6.2023 | Alejandro Fernandez, Gojko Bezovan | Volume: 10 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 50-65 | 10.13060/23362839.2023.10.1.553
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