Article

Population Research and Policy Review

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 55-77

Household formation, affordability, and housing policy

  • J. R. MironAffiliated withProfessor of Geography and Planning, Scarborough College, University of Toronto

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Abstract

Over the past several decades, in Canada as elsewhere, governments have sought to provide decent, affordable housing for every household. However, viewed in aggregate, the size and extent of the affordability problem in Canada may well have worsened. This paper argues that changes in housing affordability are linked to the changing pace and character of household formation and that household formation has been responsive to a variety of public policies generally, and to housing programs in particular. Over the last four decades or so, changes in household formation have reflected policy inducements, price movements and income growth, and the substantial elasticity of demand for separate living arrangements. Even worsening indicators of affordability may actually indicate the success of modern housing policy, although this raises questions about the appropriateness of the measures, about the goals of housing programs, and about the ultimate costs of eliminating the affordability problem.