5 thoughts on “Danny Dorling’s ‘All that is solid’: The worst book on the housing crisis so far”

  1. Posted 05/07/2014 at 00:56 | Permalink

    Kristian – Just as the number of rooms per capita can be criticised as a measure of housing supply, so can your measure of floorspace per dwelling, because it doesn’t tell us floorspace per person. Might UK households not simply have fewer people, on average, than the countries you compare against? Without information on the number of people per dwelling we cannot judge which measure gives us a better indication of supply relative to other countries.

  2. Posted 06/07/2014 at 11:40 | Permalink

    HJ, the graph shows floorspace per household, not dwelling, an important distinction given the tendency (especially in London) to subdivide existing dwellings into smaller and smaller housing units. You’re right about differences in household size. But even if you express the figures in per capita rather than per household terms (so that household size doesn’t matter), the UK still comes out second to last, just swapping places with Greece. Not a massive improvement.

    The ideal measure would be one of ‘equivalised floorspace’, adjusting the raw figures for differences in both household size and economies of scale in the use of that space. We don’t have figures for that. But we can tell from what we have that the UK must come out last on that measure: Very little floorspace per capita combined with small average household size. Can’t see how that would work out any other way.

  3. Posted 07/07/2014 at 09:34 | Permalink

    Good piece, made me think. There is no doubt that Dorling’s analysis is well off the mark. But try to avoid typecasting people as ‘lefties’! Sounds like the student union. Doesn’t add anything and makes it difficult to object to the usual ‘right wing think tank’ as a description of IEA.

  4. Posted 07/07/2014 at 10:26 | Permalink

    “The problem, Dorling argues, is purely one of distribution: Some people have too little because others have too much. The solution, then, is not to increase housing supply (an option Dorling repeatedly dismisses), but to redistribute the housing stock”

    Another problem with this thesis is that housing is not fungible. It matters hugely WHERE the house is. Redistribution is impossible because the commodities being redistributed are not equal. One could of course develop a mechanism for weighting floor-space by the desirability of the locale, and assigning a unit of measurement. Even then, once the redistribution had taken place, it is likely that trades would take place that would upset Mr. Dorlings desired distribution. That’s the problem with egalitarian arguments; people have an awkward habit of exchanging what they’ve been allocated for the allocations of others.

  5. Posted 10/07/2014 at 14:10 | Permalink

    What would happen to aggregate house prices if the Government mandated stricter minimum size and material regulations?

    As noble prize winning economist William Vickery observed, regulation acts in the same way as tax. Its incidence falls on the value of land.

    So, we could increase the price for which a new home is built by three fold, and aggregate HP’s would not rise.

    Of course, landowners would cry foul that they are being denied the windfall again from planning regs.

    But, you see the principle is clear. Free market rules only apply to Capital. Land is not Capital. Economically it is a monopoly. That always need the strictest “regulation”.

    By the way, if land rents who value are State created, were used to pay for State services instead of being privatised, we would have a free market in housing.

    So much of the need for planning and building regulations would be unnecessary.

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