Precarious housing careers: the quiet revolution in Australian housing

Date 28 May 2015

Presenter: Professor Gavin Wood

A quiet revolution in home ownership and housing finance is ushering in a new era for the Australian housing system.


The old era was characterised by a relatively risk-free housing pathway – departure from the family home was followed by a short period renting during which a deposit is saved, before a home is purchased with the aid of a mortgage. Typically a household’s mortgage was paid off while working so that in retirement couples and singles could live comfortably on the age pension because their housing costs were zero. For the small numbers of disadvantaged Australians that could not attain ownership, public housing offered a secure refuge.

This secure pathway has been eroded and most low-income households in the early stages of their housing careers now face an uncertain housing future. This seminar will document how we have reached this point, and the wider ramifications for the Australian welfare state. It will conclude by exploring policy initiatives that could address emerging issues in the contemporary Australian housing system.

Gavin Wood is Emeritus Professor of Housing and Urban Studies at RMIT University and Guest Professor, Faculty of Architecture and Built Environment, TU Delft. Netherlands. He also holds an Adjunct Professor position in the School of Economics, Finance and Property Studies, Curtin University, Western Australia. He previously held positions in the economics departments of Murdoch University (Western Australia), the University of Glasgow and University of Aberdeen (Scotland).

Professor Wood’s main research interests are in urban economics, housing finance and labour economics. He has published widely, and in recent years has authored articles on housing and tax issues in Real Estate Economics and the Journal of Housing Economics. He is currently on the International Editorial Advisory Boards of Urban Studies and Housing Studies. Gavin Wood has consulted to a number of organisations including the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the New Zealand Government’s Department of Labour, the Office of Fair Trading (Western Australia) and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

In the 1980s Professor Wood authored reports on housing tax expenditures for the OECD; in 1990–91 he was commissioned to prepare the Australian Government’s National Housing Strategy report on Taxation and Housing, and more recently by the Australian Government’s  Henry Review to co-author a report on Housing, Taxation and Transfers.

Current research interests include the project “Housing and Productivity”, funded by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute. He also has interests in neighbourhood renewal, the causes of homelessness and home ownership and housing wealth.  

Download Gavin Wood's presentation » (PDF file, 1.06 MB)


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