Home Ownership, Social Insurance and the Welfare State

Conley, D. & Gifford, B.
Sociological Forum,

Home ownership has potentially significant consequences for welfare state policy. High owner-occupancy rates may function as private insurance where social spending is low (a substitution effect). Alternatively, state income redistribution policies could raise the number of home owners (an income effect). Cross-national time-series data show that social spending is negatively related to home ownership, and mediates the positive relationship between income inequality and owner-occupancy rates. This suggests that owner-occupancy acts as a form of social insurance over the life course. Future welfare state researchers should consider the issue of home ownership in analyses of inequality and the social safety net.