Column Steven: Rant on rent

‘The housing market is barely a research topic in Wageningen.’

In addition to rent – the sum paid by the tenant – and economic rents, there is also the rant. An angry denunciation. Here’s mine on the housing market.

In terms of living satisfaction, Wageningen students are lucky. Wageningen was recently declared the best student city for housing in 2021. Still, I am wary. At some point, I will have to leave the warm Idealis nest. When I look at the graduate world from my bathroom window, I see a cold wind blowing.

After graduation, you still need a home, and the housing market has derailed completely. Young adults must pay the exploded price for a home without having a previously bought property that has increased in value to sell. Borrowed money is brought to older, wealthier homeowners by the bucketload. It may seem a distant issue, but since housing policies take about a decade to take effect, this is the time for students to worry.

Since housing policies take about a decade to take effect, this is the time for students to worry

An interesting concept in economics is economic rents. This means making a profit without investing any effort, for example, by being able to control a scarce commodity. Such as… let me think…yes, housing! Houses cannot simply be created in the Netherlands. Homeowners have seen their assets increase by 40% since 2015. They get rich sleeping while the young buyers find themselves with their backs against the wall.

Recently, I had a lengthy discussion about the housing market and the role of profit on (building) plots with a teacher. The teacher felt that speculators play a useful role. Only after a thirty-minute discussion did the teacher in question confess to having made a handsome profit from the sale of a plot. To a speculator, no less. Sadly, scientists that focus on the social consequences of the housing market are in thin supply in Wageningen.

We have, surprisingly, not had a single course about the economic rents in our own ‘highly-developed economy’  

During my bachelor’s in International Development Studies, the economic rents-issue was explained in relation to the development process in disadvantaged countries. We have, surprisingly, not had a single course about the economic rents in our own ‘highly-developed economy’. WUR, a university striving to make an impact on society, where are you?

The housing market may not become a warm bath, but the ice-cold shower the government has prepared for us must be addressed. The insights and analyses of social scientists form a point of departure. Perhaps I may even dedicate my thesis research to the matter. Now, to find a suitable supervisor.

Steven is doing a Master’s degree in Economics and Policy and enjoys hitting the squash court. He is always up for a game of squash and a good conversation. You can email him hier.

Also read:

Leave a Reply


You must be logged in to write a comment.