Blowing Bubbles

Government wasn't the sole cause of the housing bubble, but it sure didn't help:

Governments subsidise home ownership because they think it encourages stable, more law-abiding neighbourhoods. The children of homeowners do better at school than the children of renters do. Homeowners are more engaged in local democracy. And, because homeowners must pay off their mortgages, housing supposedly encourages people to save more than they otherwise would.

Yet as our article argues, the benefits of subsidies have proved smaller than expected and the costs much greater. Home ownership may indeed instil neighbourly stability (though Germany with its high levels of stability and renting suggests the two need not go together). But who said local stability was so desirable? A stable neighbourhood may be one in which people refuse to move in search of jobs.