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WPS No.36 | Hochstenbach, C. & R. Arundel (2019) | Spatial housing-market polarization: diverging house values in the Netherlands

Housing is central in the reproduction of social inequalities. Beyond divides across populations, trends point to intensifying polarization in housing-market dynamics across space. Nonetheless, little systematic evidence exists on the spatial inequality of housing values. In this paper, Cody Hochstenbach and Rowan Arundel address this through a detailed investigation of house-value developments in the Netherlands over time and space.

They draw on national registers including longitudinal and geocoded data for the entire housing stock over the 2006-2018 period. Spatial polarization is examined across different scales at the national, provincial, and urban level. The authors further investigate how housing-market inequality trends vary over time, particularly between periods of economic boom and house-price increases or, conversely, periods of downturn. The analyses expose a substantial and widespread trend toward greater polarization. Rising spatial inequality is clearly apparent at the national level, within all but one province, as well as for 44 of the 50 largest municipalities. The polarizing trend appears structural and pervasive. While boom periods saw the strongest increases, inequality levels, remarkably, remained stable or even saw continued increases over the period of declining house prices. These patterns of rising spatial polarization in house values have fundamental societal implications towards uneven wealth accumulation and in amplifying socio-economic cleavages across populations and space.

This paper has now been published in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers as 'Spatial housing market polarisation: National and urban dynamics of diverging house values'.