Ordoliberalism in Housing Markets: an overview

The impact of Ordoliberalism on Housing Policy: A basic Ordoliberal principle is that a market should have a wide variety of different types of provider with anti-monopoly laws preventing the emergence of oligopoly and cartels, just the sort of situation that creates big fish swallowing small fish and becoming oligopolistic and “too big to fail“. Public ownership/part-ownership (local, regional or national) would likewise be subject to anti-monopoly laws. In addition, many other ownership forms would be encouraged – non-profit, part-profit, co-operative, charitable, and whatever other design of human ingenuity might be developed.

In practice, there were departures from this model. The “purest” applications of ordoliberal principles have been in Germany, Switzerland, and to a lesser extent Austria (not withstanding the wide variations between these countries in the size or competition of the rental market). Austrian work on ordoliberalism was centred in Vienna, a large city because it was until 1918 the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in relation to the small size of Austria. Vienna also had strong socialist traditions and was rotes Wien (Red Vienna).

These were the countries in which ordoliberalism took root partly because of language (the early ordoliberals were German), and partly because prominent representatives of ordoliberalism were based at universities where German was the main language. Some ordoliberals had fled to Switzerland as as a refuge from Nazi persecution. Austria, was part of the Third Reich, after the 7 years of Anschluss (1938-1945). Then the Allied Occupation of Austria divided that country into several occupation zones, likewise its capital, Vienna (1945-1955). Vienna was therefore located in the occupation zone of the USSR. See the map for details: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allied-occupied_Austria#mediaviewer/File:Austria_1945-55.svg.

But the biggest departures from ordoliberal principles were in the other social market countries, most notably the Netherlands, which has been studied by researchers at Delft OTB. The two Scandinavian variants of ordoliberalism – Denmark and Sweden – are also worth closer and separate examination.

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