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WPS No.32 | Arundel, R. and Hochstenbach, C. (2018) | The spatial polarization of housing markets and wealth accumulation


Access to homeownership has always been uneven, but recent developments point to increasing inequalities. Labour markets show divergence in terms of income and contract security, with a growing share of precarious outsiders. Intergenerational inequalities are on the rise, amplifying the importance ofparental resources in assisting adult children in entering homeownership. Added to this, is a crucial spatial dimension to housing market polarization with divergence between ‘hotspot’ high-gain areas versus low-gain ‘coldspots.’

The paper tackles the question of how where one buys has gained crucial importance in structuring future housing-wealth accumulation with highly uneven access to high-gain areas. The research turns to the salient case of the Netherlands, drawing on full-population register data. First, spatial analyses expose increasing spatial polarization in house-value development. Second, household-level analyses demonstrate divided housing market access, revealing the combined impact of income, employment status and different forms of parental wealth in shaping spatially variegated access. Taken together, these dynamics in spatial polarization, labour market inequality and intergenerational support may determine opportunities for housing wealth accumulation fundamentally exacerbating societal inequalities.

Keywords : homeownership, housing wealth, spatial inequality, uneven development, dualization, intergenerational support

This paper has now been published in Urban Geography as 'Divided access and the spatial polarization of housing wealth'