Housing privatization and household wealth in transition

Type Working Paper - United Nations University-World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) Research Paper No. 2007/02
Title Housing privatization and household wealth in transition
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2007
URL http://www.wider.unu.edu/stc/repec/pdfs/rp2007/rp2007-02.pdf
All countries in transition experienced increases in inequality. They have also undertaken massive privatization of key asset housing, often on give-away terms. Are these two phenomena related? Has transfer of ownership rights to residents slowed down the inequality increases or it pushed it up? Surprisingly little is known in this area. This paper attempts to provide empirical evidence to start answering these questions. It shows how housing privatization affected the distribution of personal wealth and inequality in current consumption based on recent representative household surveys from three transition countries: Poland, Russia and Serbia. Survey data are compared with figures derived from national accounts and housing statistics. Contrary to common belief and some earlier evidence of strong equalizing effect of housing distribution in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, the paper finds that the contribution of housing to the overall inequality levels is not strong, and is not universally progressive. There is also a significant variation across countries. \n

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