Housing and capital in the 21st century

Duncan Maclennan, Julie Miao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century has attracted public, policy and academic attention. Although there is a growing research literature on the formation, distribution, utilization and wider implications of housing wealth there has been little discussion of Piketty's work in housing studies. This paper outlines and assesses the major contributions of Piketty, including re-emphasizing distribution and political economy perspectives within economics, modelling growth and distribution, establishing detailed long run patterns of wealth change and policy implications. The paper highlights the significance of shifting housing wealth in increasing inequalities in some countries: housing matters in macro-shifts. We also draw out the implications of house price and wealth growth for the balance of rentier vs. entrepreneurial forms of capitalism. If Piketty's work is important for housing research, we also argue the converse, that housing research findings can strengthen his analysis. The stylized facts of advanced economy metropolitan growth suggest that housing market processes and wealth outcomes will drive higher inequality and lower productivity into the future unless housing and related policies change markedly. Piketty, strong on evidence and conceptualization is weak on policy development and housing studies can drive more effective assessments of change possibilities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-145
Number of pages19
JournalHousing, Theory and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Mar 2017


  • Housing system
  • Housing outcomes
  • Inequality
  • Housing policy


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