Wednesday 17 January 2024

Housing: "It's just a complete cultural disaster unfolding in slow motion with the younger generations"


For several decades now, the planning and monetary systems of much of the English-speaking world have been set against first-home buyers. If housing is affordable anywhere, it's almost by accident.

Commentators everywhere are starting to wake up, but the damage has already been done to several generations...

Above you can see the disaster unfolding over many decades in the UK. Below, the terrible result in both the UK and the USA for young adults.

This is a disaster for any notion of young adults being independent.

There's a similar result in New Zealand -- with between half to two-thirds of 19-34 year-olds owning their own home in the mid-eighties, but fewer than half now. 

Houston is one place in which housing is still relatively affordable -- mostly because planners are kept at bay -- and the bloggers at the Houston Strategies blog are aware of the crisis, posting these two charts, and this comment:

Due to over-zealous NIMBY housing regulations all around the world, housing is becoming increasingly unaffordable to younger generations. That is leading to more and more young adults living with their parents rather than moving out on their own (2nd graph below, also hat tip to Jay). The 'New York Times' has a story today: "‘The Social Contract Has Been Completely Ruptured’: Ireland’s Housing Crisis - Soaring rents have left many struggling to afford homes in Dublin and have created a generational divide. Two-thirds of younger adults in the city live with their parents." (no-paywall link)

Two thirds!! 

    More anecdotally I've seen the same situation on my visits to California: houses with a half-dozen vehicles parked out front as adult children live with their parents.
    A lot of this is well known, but what hasn't been discussed are the third-order impacts. First is a flaky workforce, since they don't have to pay rent. Stories abound in California of young people quitting on a dime or even just not showing up to work or a new job when they don't feel like it (and just wait until people get free universal basic incomes!). It also creates this new political constituency for socialism: if they don't see a path to affording their own home, then their only option is getting the government to give them one. The irony is that it was government in the first place that made the housing unaffordable! It's just a complete cultural disaster unfolding in slow motion with the younger generations. And it could be avoided if we would just allow builders to build the housing the market is asking for!

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