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 MPIfG Books



Sebastian Kohl
Homeownership, Renting and Society
Historical and Comparative Perspectives

London: Routledge, 2017
232 pages
ISBN 978-1-138-64494-6 | £68.00 (hardback)
ISBN 978-315-62845-5 | £20.00 (e-book)
Order book directly from Routledge.




Abstract | Contents | Author




On the eve of the financial crisis, the USA was inhabited by almost 70 percent homeowning households, in comparison to about 45 percent in Germany. Homeownership, Renting and Society presents new evidence showing that this homeownership gap already existed between American and German cities around 1900. Existing explanations based on culture, government housing policy or typical socio-economic factors have difficulties in accounting for these long-term cross-country differences.
Using historical case studies on Germany and the USA, the book identifies three institutional domains on the supply-side of the housing market – urban land, housing finance and construction – that set countries on different housing trajectories and subsequently established differences that were hard to reverse in later periods. Further chapters generalize the argument across other OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries and extend the explanation to cover historical differences in homeownership ideology and horizontal property institutions. This enlightening volume also puts forward path-dependence theories in housing studies, connects housing with vast urban-history and political-economy literature and offers comprehensive insights about the case of a tenant’s country which contradicts the tendency towards universal homeownership.
Providing an all-new historic-institutionalist explanation of the German–American homeownership gap, this title will be of interest to postgraduate students and scholars interested in fields including: Housing Studies, Sociology, Urban History, Political Economy, Social Policy and Geography. It may also be of interest to those working in housing field organizations and ministries.



Chapter 1
The historical origins and persistency of suburbanized versus compact cities
1.1  How Germany became a country of multi-unit buildings
1.2  How the USA became urbanized in single-family-house cities

Chapter 2
Historical differences in housing finance
2.1  Germany: mortgage bank regime with non-profit associations
2.2  USA: deposit-banking regime

Chapter 3
Fordist mass production and the Handwerk tradition of single-family houses
3.1  The German Handwerk production of single-family houses
3.2  Mass-produced single-family houses in the USA

Chapter 4
The broader picture of OECD countries: generalization of findings, horizontal ownership and homeownership ideology
4.1  Exploring the generalizability: from two cases to OECD countries
4.2  Differences in the legal tradition of horizontal ownership
4.3  The origins and country differences of the homeownership idea



Sebastian Kohl
is a researcher at the Institute for Housing and Urban Research, Uppsala University, Sweden. He was a doctoral and a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne from 2010 to 2015. His research interests lie in the field of comparative-historical and economic sociology, insurances, housing, quantitative text analysis, political economy, and philosophy of social sciences.



Daniel Watermann: Kohl, Sebastian: Homeownership, Renting and Society. Historical and Comparative Perspectives. New York 2017, in: H-Soz-Kult, 16.10.2018.

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