The Effects of Market-Based Housing Reforms on Housing Affordability: New York 1990-2008

Since the 1980s, policies have increasingly encouraged housing provision by the private market. Programs to de-commodify housing such as rent regulations or social housing programs have gradually been terminated and replaced by policies to promote the delivery of housing through profit-making actors. Selling or demolishing social housing, liberalizing rents, or promoting homeownership have come to dominate the policy landscape, not just in Britain or the US, but also across many Western European countries. Programs such as the British Right-To-Buy, HOPE VI in the US, or the Dutch urban restructuring program are widely known, if only exemplary of this wider trend.

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The Future of Estimating Housing Requirements. How Can Demographic Forecasting Help Plan for Housing?

I would like to outline four themes that may be helpful to promote future work on housing requirements in the UK. First, what is the role of forecasting within planning? I think a two part formulation is a useful guide to what planners need. Forecasters should predict that part of the future which planners don’t control, so that they can concentrate on what they can control; and forecasters should predict the consequences of a plan. In our context, the ‘trend-based’ official projections encapsulate business as usual without the impact of future-changing plans, and in particular deal with fertility, mortality and international migration which are considered outside the planners’ control. Continue reading

Addressing Social Inequality in Migration, Urbanisation and Adaptation to Climate Impact in China

Understanding the role of social inequality is crucial if we are to unravel the climate impact, human adaption and migration nexus, but there is limited empirical evidence addressing it, especially in urban settings. In our study recently published in Population and Environment (Tan et al. 2015) as part of the Climate Change and Migration in China project funded by the Australian Research Council, we consider social inequality from three major dimensions: material inequality (the economic), social status inequality (the social) and power inequality (the political). Our consideration was based on the theories of socio-spatial inequality (Sheppard 2002) and social inequality (Goldthorpe 2010). Continue reading

A Demographic Perspective on Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation

When assessing the potential impact of population growth on emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), for a long time only the absolute size of the population was assumed to matter. But while population growth is undoubtedly one of the main drivers of GHG emissions at the global level and thus climate change, the importance of differential climate impact depending on demographic characteristics has been acknowledged to a far lesser extent. A growing body of research, summarized in a recent article in Population Studies (Lutz and Striessnig 2015) shows that sociodemographic factors, like people’s age, education, place of residence, and other important sources of population heterogeneity, play a large role in shaping lifestyles and thus influence – not only emissions – but also people’s ability to adapt to climate change.

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Decomposing the Effect of Crime on Population Changes

How crime affects the migration decisions of individuals is important for two main reasons. First, increases in crime may cause individuals to leave a locality, which erodes the tax base required to address further increases in criminal justice and public safety initiatives. Additionally, crime may inflict other externalities, since long-distance moves are costly.

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Human Fertility, Molecular Genetics and Natural Selection

To what extent do genes determine when you have your first child and the total number of children that you have? Until now, social science research on fertility has largely ignored genetic explanations and instead attributed our fertility behaviour almost exclusively to the social environment and upbringing, postponement of having children in lieu of educational attainment and labour force participation and value change. Yet a growing number of studies within biology, demography, and genetics have shown that genetic factors can explain up to 40–50 % of our fertility behaviour.

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Is Divorce Beneficial to the Environment?

An earlier research article, which received extensive media coverage, argued that divorce leads to a higher use of resources such as domestic energy and water (Yu and Liu 2007). Considering 12 countries around the world they found that divorce leads to an increase in the number of small, less energy efficient households. Those who live alone usually live in housing with more square feet per person than those who live as a couple. This means that two people living alone require more heating than a couple living together. In addition, some consumer durables that require electricity are consumed at the household level, such as refrigerators, freezers, TVs etc. This leads Yu and Liu to conclude that high divorce rates will entail high levels of energy consumption.

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Sustainable Development in Developing Countries: Ramifications of Urbanisation and Poverty

Globally, sustainable development is recognised as a potential pathway for building resilient cities, reducing poverty and safeguarding the natural environment. With its aim to achieve a symbiotic relationship between the economy, society and the environment, the concept of sustainable development has increasingly focused on fostering adaptive capabilities and creating opportunities to maintain or achieve desirable social, economic and ecological systems for both present and future generations (Cobbinah et al., 2011; Folke et al., 2002; WCED, 1987). As a result, international policies, programmes and institutions over the past three decades have been considerably shaped by the idea of sustainable development. Continue reading

“Water-Energy-Pollution” Nexus for the Energy and Pollution Footprints of Cities

The growing world population and global urbanisation trends have raised serious concerns over energy demand. These concerns have been exacerbated by the challenges of climate change and pollution, which fuel worry over availability of the basic necessities like clean water and food. Whilst several studies discuss the effects of pollution on these needs, adequate attention has not yet to be paid to the inter-linkages between the water, energy and pollution sectors.

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Prenatal Exposure to Violence and Birth Weight in Mexico. Can Mother’s Behaviors Make a Difference?

Research from biology and psychology has shown that the prenatal period is sensitive to the environment and critical for later development. While the effects of toxins such as alcohol and nicotine on the fetus are well documented, the effect of maternal stress is more difficult to assess. The main reason is unobserved selectivity. Women who experience or report high levels of stress may be different from those who don’t in ways that affect their pregnancies, making it impossible to disentangle the effect of stress from its common correlates. The question is important because stress is widespread, stratified along socioeconomic and racial lines, and may be a central mechanism for the noxious effect of poverty or discrimination on children. We examine the effect of maternal stress and address the unobserved selectivity problem in a recent ASR article.

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