The Economic History Review

Housing affordability during the urban transition in Spain

Volume 70 Issue 2
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Pages: 632-658Authors: Juan Carmona, Markus Lampe, Joan Rosés
Published online: November 25, 2016DOI: 10.1111/ehr.12418

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During the decades prior to the Civil War, Spain experienced a rapid process of urbanization, which was accompanied by the demographic transition and sizeable rural-urban migrations. This article investigates how urban housing markets reacted to these far-reaching changes, which increased demand for dwellings. To this end, this study employs a new hedonic index of real housing prices and constructs a cross-regional panel dataset of rents and housing price fundamentals. This new evidence indicates that rents were not a significant financial burden on low-income families and, hence, housing was affordable for the working classes. The article also shows that families’ access to new homes was facilitated by a sizeable growth in the housing supply. Substantial investments in urban infrastructure and the institutional framework enabled the construction of new homes at affordable prices. Our results suggest that housing problems were not as pervasive during the urban transition as the literature often seems to claim.