Home-ownership as a social norm and positional good: Subjective wellbeing evidence from panel data

Foye, C. , Clapham, D. and Gabrieli, T. (2018) Home-ownership as a social norm and positional good: Subjective wellbeing evidence from panel data. Urban Studies, 55(6), pp. 1290-1312. (doi: 10.1177/0042098017695478)

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Much attention has been devoted to examining the absolute benefits of home-ownership (e.g. security and autonomy). This paper, by contrast, is concerned with conceptualising and testing the relative benefits of home-ownership; those benefits that depend on an individual’s status in society. Home-ownership has previously been analysed as a social norm, implying that the relative benefits (costs) associated with being an owner (renter) are positively related to relevant others’ home-ownership values. The theoretical contribution of this paper is to additionally conceptualise home-ownership as a positional good, implying that the status of both home-owners and renters is negatively related to relevant others’ home-ownership consumption. The empirical contribution of this paper is to quantitatively test for these relative benefits in terms of subjective wellbeing. We run fixed effects regressions on three waves of the British Household Panel Study. We find that (1) a strengthening of relevant others’ home-ownership values is associated with increases (decreases) in the subjective wellbeing of home-owners (renters), and (2) an increase in relevant others’ home-ownership consumption decreases the life satisfaction of owners but has no effect for renters. Overall our findings suggest that (1) the relative benefits of home-ownership are both statistically significant and of a meaningful magnitude, and (2) home-ownership is likely to be both a social norm and a positional good. Without explicitly recognising these relative benefits, policymakers risk overestimating the contribution of home-ownership to societal wellbeing.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Clapham, Professor David and Foye, Dr Chris
Authors: Foye, C., Clapham, D., and Gabrieli, T.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Urban Studies
Journal Name:Urban Studies
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN (Online):1360-063X
Published Online:08 March 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 Urban Studies Journal Limited
First Published:First published in Urban Studies 55(6): 1290-1312
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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