Housing Careers in a Changing Welfare State
Abstract: The departure point of this thesis was changes to the welfare state. These changes began during the recession in the 1970s and were emphasised in the beginning of the 1990s. The housing market was particularly affected, as the state almost completely withdrew its engagement. Questions were raised as to how the development of the welfare state and the subsequent changes have affected different sectors of the housing market (social housing) and the housing careers of different groups.Besides the introduction the thesis consists of five papers, beginning with a review article on the effect of welfare state changes on the social housing stock in some western countries. The social housing sector (housing the lowest income groups) became more residualised as the concentration of low-income households in this sector increased in most countries. At the same time, government interest in this sector decreased.The second, third and fourth papers follow the housing careers of different groups in three Swedish municipalities during the period 1985–1995. Nest-leaving and choice of tenure of the young population, aged 16–24, in the Gävle municipality were studied. A study of two cohorts showed that nest-leaving was postponed during the recession of the early 1990s when unemployment rates were high among young people. A slight increase in moves to co-operative housing was seen during this period. Immigrants in Jönköping, Gävle and Västerås were studied. Results show that the structure of the local housing market as well as time spent in Sweden are important factors in the housing careers of immigrants. In areas with a large share of owner-occupation, immigrants live in this type of housing to a larger extent. A housing career similar to that of the Swedish population is more common among immigrants who have spent a longer time in Sweden. Residential mobility of seniors towards the city centres in the same municipalities showed only a marginal increase in this type of move. However, the characteristics of those moving were those that, to a large extent, characterise the baby boom generation born in the 1940s. As a result, this type of move can be expected to increase as this group retires.Finally, the fifth paper follows the housing career of four cohorts during the development of the welfare state after 1945. The cohorts were born in 1925, 1942, 1955 and 1970, respectively. They were interviewed about the meaning attached to the terms size, tenure and location, important factors in the development of Swedish housing policy. Despite differences in the housing market at the start of their housing careers, with time the cohorts developed similar demands on size, standard and location. Tenure was not cohort-specific but was instead discussed as degrees of freedom found in owner occupation or rental tenure.
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