Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Women and the great housing price inflation spiral

I was listening to Women's Hour on the way back from the local dump yesterday morning and overheard an interesting item on Sweden - which could have been made exactly the same about the UK. Why - given that feminism is broadly triumphant in the way it has produced life chances for women - are women so stressed?

It is a good question. The women's movement was supposed to be about liberation, and in so many ways it has been. And of course men don't always share the tasks that women were traditionally expected to do. That may explain the imbalance, but it doesn't really explain the stress.

After all, with both partners economically active, there ought to be more money, more resources, more time - more everything. So why isn't there?

I think the answer is implied in my book Broke: How to Survive the Middle Class Crisis. It is basic economics, but somehow our leaders appear to be innocent of it.

What happens is that the cost of housing rises to take account of the extra income. In fact, you could say that the mass appearance of middle-class women on the jobs market is one of the factors pushing up house prices over the last three decades. They earned money, which meant that bigger loans were available, so the house prices rose to meet them.

That is how it works. Inflation is too much money chasing too few goods, and what we have seen since the deregulation of the mortgage markets is ever more reasons to lend more, so that the house prices rise to take account of it, and so the cycle goes on – in retrospect a terrifying rack for the middle classes. Just as it is a terrifying rack for everyone else.

Terrifying especially if women didn’t want to work, because that freedom is now beyond them. Once lenders had began to calculate the upper limit in multiples of joint salaries, there was another escalation of house prices.

It is part of the far bigger vicious circle that is caused by people desperately stretching to afford the home they want, and which is outpacing their income as they watch – a spiral that keeps on spinning: smaller houses, bigger loans, more salaries, higher prices, smaller houses and so on.

So the loan terms get longer, the multiples get bigger, the houses get smaller, all to eke out a little more affordability - only to have the prices rise to meet the new boundary of affordability.

And really all this stuff about there being too few homes is a drop in the ocean in comparison. That is why women are stressed. It is also, incidentally, why men are stressed. Because they are caught on the housing price inflation spiral and it squeezes them dry.

AND! My ebook Jerusalem: England's National Anthem  is on special offer for 99p this week. There is also a conventional print version here

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2 comments:

Oh-la-la Non said...

Oh Lord,

I can’t watch Nigella’s cooking show without sniggering, her domestic Goddess was built on a total lie. Betty Friedan must be in hysterics.

Another thing we are going to be blamed for. Not only we are emasculating the men, but also we are the reason why they can’t afford the pad of their dream. Give over please. Get the salts.
It was only a little while ago that we could not even own a bank account in our own name, but it is still Eve's fault.

Anxiety and stress are the maladies of our age. We have our face stuck on the shop window 24/7 and we are fed the illusion that if we had the stuff, our lives would be so much better. Narcissism is really bad for your mental - wellbeing on the long run, not just your credit rating. It is so close, on our phone even , yet so far away if you do not have the money.
Getting off the merry-go-round is not encouraged, there is no money on that. Illusion is still the opium of the people.
A smaller house is not a bad thing, less time required to clean it, because let’s face it, even after 8 hours slogging in a job, a woman is still going to clean it. Unless she has a cleaner ( and that is why immigration is a bonus).

You want something to stress about, look up the level of the UK current-account deficit, why it is so huge, and how George has the audacity to lecture poor people to live within their mean.

The times They are A-Changing. And yes Ronda Rousey is a woman, and Caitlyn Jenner used to be a man. Relax, don’t stress.

Jonas Söderström said...

I'd say, there's a different story here. In Sweden, it relates more to how the nature of work has changed, especially for women, in the last 10-15 years.

Women in Sweden tend to work in health care, in education, and in care for the elderly.

Precisely these occupations have been radically transformed by a toxic mix of technology and a command-and-control managment style which has been made possible by said technology.

A typical care nurse in Sweden has a schedule, generate by an it planning system, dictated down to the single minute (!) of how long it takes to travel between elderly patients’ homes, how long to feed them, how long to make their beds. Every action has to be confirmed electronically with a portable device to a central management database, which presumably measures efficiency and reports wonderful figures back to politicians.

But all compassion in the job is of course lost. You can't tell a machine that patient B seemed down today and so I spent two minutes longer with her.

The same development can be seen in education, where teachers are required to tick thousands (yes, thousands) of boxes in the it systems tracking their pupils.

Social workers are another group - to a high degree females - that are tormented with similar software madness. When social workers in Gothenburg last year got their new it system for client support, it simply stopped working every day. Desperate clients turned violent when social workers could not tell if their benefits would go through, etc.

We've also seen a strange epidemic of dysmally functioning payroll systems, taking it's toll on the women (mostly) who work in the economy departments. For example, in several Swedish regions, nurses (and doctors) have reported their employers to the Enforcement Authority - they simply were not payed their proper salaries.

It's a problem that only recently has been acknowledged. They are the focus of my book "Jävla skitsystem ("Stupid bloody system!") - unfortunately, for the moment only in Swedish. You can read a bit more about it in English, however, at http://stupidsystem.org/.