19 Comments
Oct 29, 2022Liked by Ed West

Here in Ireland the housing situation is an absolute nightmare, especially in Dublin. For the last few years an embarrassingly large chunk of my income has gone on rent for a one-bedroom apartment.

It wasn't always that way. My parents got married in 1980, in their twenties. My father was a low-ranking civil servant; my mother gave up her own job soon after marrying, and remained a housewife throughout my childhood. And yet they were able to buy a three-bedroom house in a fairly nice suburb of south Dublin. They had a back garden and a car. They had three children. We went on holiday every summer (albeit to rainy Irish seaside towns). It would be impossible to support a family like that on a single income in Dublin now (unless that income was very high indeed).

Oddly, it's now part of Ireland's national mythology that the 1970's and 80's were a time of darkness and disfunction (see the cringy film 'Sing Street'). But there are plenty of modern luxuries that I'd happily trade in exchange for the ability to live in the sort of place my parents bought 42 years ago.

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founding

Counterpoints:

UK fertility rate has been below replacement value since the 1970's, including during periods when housing was much more affordable - more/less at all points in time until 2004.

Building without effective control of immigration, likely facilitates the further displacement of the indigenous British population. Not least because first generation immigrants are more fertile.

Higher house prices in London should, in theory, push wealth outwards.

High houses prices should (in theory) drive commitment and coupling as a way to better survive/thrive. Perhaps more affordable housing would, counter intuitively, further reduce the already very low rates of commitment amongst the young.

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Good article but I'm skeptical that house prices has more than a minor impact on fertility, as compared to the general culture of individualism and freedom which I think is largely behind it. Germany and Japan have relatively low housing costs for rich countries and yet lower fertility than Britain.

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Excellent piece, Mr. West. I noticed the promotion of "street votes" again. Are there any examples of this procedure's actually being done and working out well?

Where I live, there's a great deal of ruckus about the building of more housing, including (OMG!) apartments. *shrug* I've been listening to people whining, "I'm here - now the county is full!" since we moved here almost 20 years ago.

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Is there any connection between the shortage of housing and the large numbers of immigrants, both legal and illegal? I only ask because I rarely see the connection made. Yet if net immigration continues to run at over 300,000 a year, even if the government were to change housing regulations I can't believe that Britain has enough builders, carpenters, plasterers etc. to even begin to keep up with demand, let alone clear the backlog.

Of course very few of those immigrants will live alone. Let's say they live three to a house. That's still 100,000 new houses a year just to accommodate the incoming immigrants. Or have I forgotten some factor that completely changes the calculations? It wouldn't be the first time.

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founding

My personal unifying theory of everything ( including declining marriage and fertility rate) is the removal of the taboo against pre marital sex. This has much reduced female bargaining power in the mating game and left men in a permanent state of aimlessness and adolescence. Severely hitting family formation. I generalise and also presuppose that the main purpose of life is to reproduce, with the family as the cornerstone of the optimal social order. Gratification replacing duty and repression. But then accept that unifying theories are likely more comforting than accurate.

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In a previous online life I was the Transportation and Urban Plannng Policy Editor for Progressive Congress News. This piece would have gone out to Democratic congressional and legislative staffers in my digest today.

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