The Sustainability of Home Ownership

  • Stuart Lowe


Over the course of seven decades in the twentieth century home ownership replaced private renting as the predominant housing tenure. By the dawn of the twenty-first century Britain had caught up with the other English-speaking nations in the OECD group and indeed, with nearly 70 per cent of households living in owner occupied property, was at the upper end of the English-speaking cluster. The major reason for this transition was the underlying improvement in incomes as the twentieth century progressed, but policy choices also played a significant role. Home ownership became more diffused across the social spectrum, drawing into it the vast majority of heads of households with non-manual and skilled manual occupational backgrounds. Home ownership is, however, still not an option for millions of households, about a third of the total, many of whom cannot afford its cost and, with the aid of housing benefit, live in rental accommodation. Is this, then, the more or less stable state of British housing? The aim of this chapter is to answer this question and to examine the consequences of the conversion of Britain into a home owning society. The three main issues here concern the impact of the growth of home ownership on the macroeconomy, its influence in reshaping the structure of the British social system and, finally, the impact of Britain’s conversion to home ownership on the welfare state. The central point is that it is almost inconceivable that such a major reshaping of the housing system spread, as we saw in Chapter 6, over nearly a whole century of change, would not impact on other aspects of the political, economic and social systems.


House Price Housing Market Home Ownership Housing Wealth Consumption Sector 
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Further Reading

  1. Burrows, R., Ford, J. and Wilcox, S. (2000) ‘Half the poor? Policy responses to the growth of low-income homeownership’, in S. Wilcox (ed.), Housing Finance Review 2000–2001, York, Joseph Rowntree Foundation.Google Scholar
  2. DETR (Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions) (2000b) Quality and Choice: A Decent Home for All. The Housing Green Paper, London, HMSO, Chapter 4, at, click on ‘Housing’.
  3. Forrest, R., Kennett, P. and Leather, P. (1999) Home Ownership in Crisis?, Aldershot, Ashgate.Google Scholar
  4. Hamnett, C. (1999) Winners and Losers–Home Ownership in Modern Britain, London, UCL Press.Google Scholar
  5. Saunders, P. (1990) A Nation of Home Owners, London, Unw in Hyman.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Stuart Lowe 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stuart Lowe

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