The interwar period witnessed an outstanding period of housing development – about 1.4 million houses were completed of which 865,000 or 62% were new dwellings in rural England and Wales. Amongst a wide range of factors supporting this boom, favourable housing policy, political climate prioritising housebuilding, supportive macroeconomic environment and the rise of building societies are a few which I have discussed in my previous articles. This article delves into the geography of housing expansion: why was the housing boom concentrated in some regions relative to other areas? What were some of the causal factors behind this phenomenon?
Recent research has explored timing, magnitudes and potential determinants of housing booms. In a NBER paper, authors Ferreira and Gyourko (2011) discussed this across American neighbourhoods and metropolitan areas from 1993-2009. The authors have shown that housing markets are ‘local’ (i.e. metro area phenomena) that are largely driven by income as the main fundamental on the demand side. On the supply side, their research points to regulatory and physical/geographical constraints as crucial factors. Insights from their research seems to explain historical episodes of housing boom in other areas as well. Before delving into the housing boom during the interwar period, it is important to shed light on the economic conditions that preceded it.