September 25, 2021
Recent decades have been marked by the rise of populism, the emergence of New Labour, and decline of social democratic parties. The dominant explanation for these trends is a shift in cultural attitudes, but leaves open where such a sudden shift comes from. Advancing recent cross-sectional work on the political economy of housing, this paper suggests that slow-moving underlying processes as materialized in the expansion of homeownership can help explain the observable cultural shift and recent macrotrends. Taking a longitudinal micro perspective of individuals’ housing and political trajectories in Germany, Switzerland, and the UK since the 1980s, we find that the transition into homeownership has made voting for social democrats and populists more likely. The influence never comes as a shock but extends over decade-long anticipation and socialization intervals. Rather than strengthening traditional conservative parties, expanding homeownership, we argue, has contributed to the gradual embourgeoisement of the left.
European Journal of Political Research