Secondary property ownership in Europe: Contributing to asset-based welfare strategies and the ‘really big trade-off’

Barend Wind*, Caroline Dewilde, John Doling

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
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This paper examines the role of secondary property ownership (SPO) in Europe (EU). Focusing predominantly on residential properties used as rental-investments, it explores their role in the political economy of housing and welfare, contributing to respectively newer and older literatures about housing wealth and asset-based welfare and the ‘really big trade-off’ between outright homeownership and generous pensions. Both have hitherto largely been viewed as related to ownership of the primary residence. The empirical part of this paper is based on the Household Finance and Consumption Survey (HFCS), carried out by the European Central Bank in 2014, and providing information about property ownership by samples of households in 20 member states of the EU. The results show that the total wealth held in the form of SPO is considerable while also varying considerably from country to country. SPO held as an investment in the form of landlordism is most prevalent in countries characterised as corporatist-conservative or liberal welfare regimes. In the corporatist-conservative countries, SPO can be seen as a since long established proactive asset-based welfare strategy that compensates for the limitations of their fragmented pension systems, especially for the self-employed. In liberal welfare states, the recent upswing of buy-to-let landlordism is a manifestation of the concentration of housing wealth and limited access to homeownership for starters, which makes SPO an ever more attractive investment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-52
JournalInternational Journal of Housing Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Secondary property ownership
  • buy-to-let
  • housing wealth
  • life course
  • pension

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