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The Importance of Housing Systems in Safeguarding Social Cohesion in Europe (SOCOHO), Final Report, EUR 23159

Project ID: HPSE-CT-2001-00060


The SOCOHO project funded under the Fifth Framework Programme and, specifically, the key action for the improvement of socio-economic knowledge base, was intended to research which challenges to the housing systems of the individual countries result from the current crisis of social cohesion and how the various housing systems are responding to these challenges by international comparison.
The approach adopted by the SOCOHO project combines a comparative analysis of the European Household Panel data with supplementary research in six selected countries (Austria, France, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom). The following report presents the results at EU-15 level.
The SOCOHO findings show that the housing systems of the EU member states are very important factors in the maintenance of social cohesion. They fulfil this role by exerting decisive influence on the level of risk of poverty, the extent of social and ethnic segregation, and the dealing of households with the current transformation of family and demographic structures.
At the same time the results from this report also show that the framework conditions created in the last decades on a European level clearly limit the options open to the member states in the area of housing policy: On the one hand a restrictive budget policy was enforced, which led to reductions in housing subsidies, while on the other hand, the European Union established an agreement of role allocation between the market, the state and the social economy, which increasingly takes the public authorities' legitimation for an efficient regulation of the housing markets. In this way, besides the economic basis, the political basis of the housing policy was also undermined. Thus the European Union (in sharp contrast to the pathos of the European Social Policy Agenda) reduced the ability of the national housing systems to secure social cohesion.

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