The precariat class and capability deprivations relevant to housing

Boram Kimhur

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterScientific


In affluent countries, the precariat class is becoming a serious issue. On the other hand, in less affluent countries, a large percentage of the population is working in the informal economy. Both population groups are facing similar capability deprivations in securing a place to live. The deprivations they are facing are not limited to monetary dimension. Insecurity in employment, and lack of entitlement for various social housing services and mortgages greatly constraint their ability to secure a place to live. They often rent housing but their tenure is often vulnerable due to the lack of systems protecting tenants’ right. In addition, both in affluent and less affluent countries, housing policies have been oriented to homeownership, which results in reduced housing opportunities for the precariat and the workers in the informal economy. Their informal or insecure position often limits their voice in government housing policy. These deprivations in the capabilities relevant to housing can limit their other life opportunities. The research aims to examine the multiple capability deprivations of people in the precariat class and informal economy in relation to the housing issue.
The research first defines the precariat in both affluent and less affluent countries. The term ‘precariat’ is used in affluent countries and the discussion has been emerging particularly in the European context. The definition of its concept is yet contingent, but it has many common aspects with informal sector workers in terms of capability deprivations. The research will analyse these common features, define the concept of the precariat and discuss both groups under the same term of the precariat.
The second phase of the research selects countries and compares the number of precariat population having capability deprivations in relation to housing. The research will compare the result with the target population of housing policy interventions, which is largely measured by the income threshold and some additional variables related to specific conditions of marginalised groups. Income or consumption measurement has been the main dimension to define the social policy target groups, and housing policy is no exception to this. A comparison of the target population number of a social/public housing programme according to a monetary indicator and non-monetary indicator(s) may provide a different picture. Currently, the key informational basis for defining the target population of social/public housing programmes is the household income level. However, the population in the precariat may have income above the threshold of the programmes but not stable enough to take a long-term mortgage or rent a house in a private market. In the context of less affluent countries, many low-income people and the poor are working in the informal economy, who are in high need for adequate housing. However, they are often not eligible for government housing programmes: they cannot prove their income and governments cannot trace their income level.
The third phase compares policy interventions. Private (informal) rental sector has played a certain role to provide the precariat with affordable place to live. The research will examine the housing systems related to the private rental sector in terms of tenants’ tenure vulnerability. Besides the comparison of relevant regulations, the research can also compare the number of private rental housing units under the rent control regulation, for instance. An additional case study is to compare the population eligible for housing finance programmes (mortgages). Research on the extent of opportunities that people have for using formal housing finance programmes may broaden the informational basis of housing policy, instead of merely focusing on, for instance, the number of housing units supplied, or to which extent housing supply meets housing demand. This may indicate to what extent a housing policy has contributed to removing the obstacles of people to have capabilities to secure a place to live, and to invest in other functionings to enhance their well-being. This research may be combined with qualitative research about how those not eligible for formal housing finance programmes handle their housing issue in order to draw more detail implications for necessary policy actions.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventHDCA Conference 2019: Connecting Capabilities - London, United Kingdom
Duration: 9 Sept 201911 Sept 2019


ConferenceHDCA Conference 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Housing policy
  • Capability approach
  • precariat
  • non-standard employment
  • informal economy


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