Dr John McCartney: Plan to free up housing stock faces a host of social, emotional barriers
Ideally, there would be a perfect match between household sizes and the size of the properties they occupy. But in Ireland this is often not the case. One-third of one-person households and 44pc of two-person households live in large properties containing six or more rooms.
Economists would argue that this type of mismatch leads to all manner of sub-optimal outcomes. First, it is inflationary. With a fixed stock of properties in the short run, over-consumption of housing resources by some people creates a shortage for others, and this inevitably leads to competitive bidding that drives up prices and rents. But there is also a spatial dimension to the argument. Under-crowding is particularly common in mature urban neighbourhoods developed for family housing in the '50s and '60s.
This has contributed to depopulation of these areas and inefficient use of the public amenities in these locations. It has also forced young people to move further out in search of affordable properties to raise their own families in. This feeds through to urban sprawl and long commutes, which, in turn, puts pressure on the quality of life.