Schipper, Sebastian. “Towards a ‘Post-Neoliberal’ Mode of Housing Regulation? The Israeli Social Protest of Summer 2011.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (early view; online first).
In the summer of 2011, after decades of virtually uncontested neoliberalization, Israel was swept by unprecedented protests against the rising cost of living, social inequality and, most particularly, escalating housing prices. Within two weeks, a small protest camp established on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv had grown into a mass movement involving hundreds of thousands of people across the country. Given an ambivalent sense of the significance of urban movements in bringing about social change, the aim of this article is to analyze whether the Israeli social protest was able to push forward a post-neoliberal mode of housing regulation. Building on a framework developed by Brenner, Peck and Theodore to grasp transformations in the landscape of regulatory restructuring, this article argues that the movement has indeed achieved a far-reaching hegemonic shift in public discourse and also become an important driver in promoting regulatory experiments. Despite its achievements, however, the movement was unable to challenge the Israeli ‘rule regime’ of neoliberalization, on account of two structural constraints that were shielded by the most powerful state apparatuses: the commodity character of housing; and a neoliberalized land regime, where state-owned land is treated as a profit machine for public finance.
This research proposes and examines a new measure for assessing the state of housing affordability inequality. We employ a large micro-level data set by which we estimate and evaluate the time-varying housing affordability inequality in Israel over the period 1992–2011. Results show that our developed housing affordability inequality Gini coefficient has considerably increased in the past decade. Moreover, controlling for changes in net income inequality and macroeconomic conditions, housing affordability inequality is found to positively correlate with average housing prices (computed in net income terms). Outcomes are robust to the alternative Atkinson inequality index. Furthermore, our method allows for an examination of segmentation in housing affordability. We find that segmentation particularly prevails across household head’s gender, family status, working status, the number of income providers in the household and household geographical residence. Research outcomes may direct policymakers in designing policies aiming to reduce inequality and segmentation in housing affordability.