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The Hidden Homeownership Welfare State: An International Long-term Perspective on the Tax Treatment of Homeowners

Referierte Aufsätze Web of Science

Konstantin A. Kholodilin, Sebastian Kohl, Artem Korzhenevych, Linus Pfeiffer

In: Journal of Public Policy 43 (2023), 1, S. 86–114


Welfare is traditionally understood as social security decommodifying labour markets or as social investment policies. In the domain of housing, however, welfare for homeowners is largely hidden in the tax codes’ fiscal exemptions. Based on a content analysis of legislation, this article introduces a novel yearly database of 37 countries between 1901 and 2020 to uncover the “hidden welfare state” of taxes on imputed rent, deductibility of mortgage payments, housing capital gains tax, and value-added tax on newly built dwellings. Summary indices of homeownership attractiveness and neutrality of the tax code show that fiscal homeownership policies have been in decline until the 1980s and risen ever since. They are in place where finance is liberally and labour restrictively regulated. Contrary to the classical welfare state, they are not associated with an economic logic of industrialism or left-wing governments. They rather are an alternative to rent regulation used by Common-law jurisdictions or smaller countries. As welfare for property owners, the logic of fiscal homeownership welfare diverges from the classical welfare for the labouring classes.

Konstantin A. Kholodilin

Research Associate in the Macroeconomics Department

JEL-Classification: C43;H24;K25;R38
Keywords: Homeownership taxation attractiveness, international longitudinal data, leximetrics, tenure neutrality

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