The Suburbanization of Poverty: Homeownership Policies and Spatial Inequalities in France

By Laurent Gobillon, Anne Lambert, Sandra Pellet

This article examines the role played by assisted loans in the access to homeownership and in the residential segregation of low-income households in France. During the 1996–2006 period, no-interest loans affected 1.4 million households and were the main policy tool favoring homeownership. We rely on French housing surveys (INSEE) and administrative records on no-interest loans (SFGFAS) to compare the position of social groups in the housing market before and after the introduction of no-interest loans. We show that, in a context of increasing housing prices, no-interest loans have limited the exclusion of lower- and middle-class households from the new-build housing market, especially outside the Paris region. Nevertheless, households with no-interest loans tend to relocate to peripheral areas characterized not only by a lower proportion of professionals and managers relative to central areas, but also by lower access to public transportation, the childcare system, high schools, and job opportunities. Moreover, in-depth interviews at the individual level suggest that low-income households had no clear perception of the social and physical disconnections they would experience when purchasing their new homes.

  • assisted loans
  • homeownership
  • segregation
  • suburbanization
  • inequalities
  • France
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