The Janus Face of Homeownership-Based Welfare

This paper reflects on the different faces of asset-based welfare from both a theoretical and an empirical perspective. It shows that asset-based welfare can be perceived as a lever for welfare state restructuring but also as an instrument for poverty eradication. In most countries, asset-based welfare policies focus on stimulating home-ownership. The general idea is that by becoming a homeowner, households build up equity that can be released for care and pension purposes in old age. However, there are signs that such policies increase inequality between homeowners (depending on the location of the dwelling and/or the period in which it was bought), but particularly so between homeowners and tenants. We therefore contend that home-ownership based welfare policies need a clear and fundamental specification of the role of the government: how to deal with housing market risks and how to prevent politically unacceptable levels of inequality and exclusion?


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Elsinga, M. , J. Hoekstra 2015. ‘The Janus Face of Homeownership-Based Welfare.’ Critical Housing Analysis 2 (1): 32-41.