Which Policies Work Best?

  • John Doling


At the outset of this book — in the Introduction and Chapter Two — the case for undertaking the comparative analysis of housing policy was argued on two grounds: as an aid to theoretical understanding and for learning policy lessons. Up to this point, however, the emphasis has been on the former with a particular focus on theories of convergence and divergence. In the present chapter the emphasis is shifted to policy lessons. Implicit in this re-orientation, especially under a heading that uses a notion of ‘best’ applied to policy, is the possibility of convergence, not as a direct consequence of the logic of industrialism but of the considered judgements of policy makers. One process leading to such convergence would occur where housing policy is driven by rational policy makers who seek out knowledge from their own and other countries in order to put the best policies onto statute books. If the world were one in which housing problems and objectives were common across industrialized countries, cross-country lesson learning and policy making on the basis of those lessons might be expected to lead to a narrowing of differences. There might be another process through which the same convergence outcome was achieved, a process driven not by individual countries seeking better policies but by the growing importance of supranational bodies — the EU, the World Bank, the UN and so on — seeking to guide policy making in individual countries. Convergence through policy choice could thus be either bottom up or top down.


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© John Doling 1997

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  • John Doling

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