Eldres boligsituasjon. Boligmarked og boligpolitikk i lys av samfunnets aldring
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This research report addresses the challenges of housing provision in light of the ageing society. The proportion of the population over 70 years old may increase from 9 per cent to 19 per cent between 2016 and 2060, according to Statistics Norway. The challenges and conundrums related to this demographic transition motivates the main research questions of the report: Within the theoretical framework of welfare economics, what are the normative arguments for a specific housing policy directed at the elderly? How do Norwegian municipalities attempt to influence housing construction in light of the ageing society? How wide is their scope of action in the field of housing policy for the elderly? To what extent do seniors (55+) and the elderly strategically adapt their housing to the inevitable reality of ageing, for instance, by moving to modern and more accessible apartments or adapting their existing home to the challenges associated with old age? This is an important question, not least since strategic investments from the elderly themselves may contribute to a more efficient provision of municipal care and health services. How can the municipalities and the state contribute to strengthening the opportunities of older people to invest in housing alternatives adapted to the realities of old age? The report «Housing for the elderly. Housing markets and housing policies for an ageing society» consists of four interlinked studies: Municipal housing policy for an ageing society (J. Sørvoll) Policy instruments and economic theory. Normative arguments in defense of a housing policy directed at the elderly? (V. Nordvik). The housing wealth and housing preferences of seniors and the elderly (H. C. Sandlie & L. Gulbrandsen) Policy instruments and the elderly’s incentives for housing investment (J. Sørvoll). In part one of the report, we analyze municipal housing policies directed at the elderly, on the basis of an empirical material consisting of qualitative interviews in six municipalities and policy plans from 89 local governments. We argue that many municipalities lack the knowledge and the competence to execute an informed housing policy adapted to an ageing society. In general, moreover, it seems that housing policy directed at the elderly is not prioritized in the vast majority of municipalities. On a more positive note, from the perspective of Norwegian authorities, the six municipalities analyzed in-depth in part 1 all acknowledge the importance of housing policy for the gradual adaptation of the Norwegian welfare state to the ageing society. Many have considered employing policy instruments that would seriously expand the municipalities’ influence over the provision of housing for the elderly. This may indicate that one should follow the field of housing for the elderly closely for new developments in the coming years. Part two of the report is an attempt to provide a systematic overview of arguments for social policy interventions in the form of in-kind housing interventions. We confront these arguments with housing needs emerging over the processes of ageing. The discussions are related to challenges and debates concerning housing for the elderly in Norway. In the absence of externalities and market failure, well-informed agents choose among available combinations of consumption goods. The outcomes of these choices are superior in terms of providing the combination of goods and services an agent herself prefers. This is the core of the principle of consumer sovereignty. James Tobin has forcefully demonstrated both the intuition of the concept consumer sovereignty and part of the explanation that it is not universally embraced in discussions of specific support as e.g. housing for elderly: While concerned laymen who observe people with shabby housing or too little to eat instinctively want to provide them with decent housing and adequate food, economists instinctively want to provide them with more cash income. Then they can buy the housing and food if they want to, and if they choose not to, the presumption is that they have a better use for the money (Tobin, 1970:246). Starting from this point of departure we argue that externalities feeding into need, costs and efficiency in provision of health care and practical help to elderly provide a sufficient argument for housing specific interventions, e.g. in order to improve physical accessibility (Universal design). Moreover, we argue that informational asymmetries and depreciated agency should be considered seriously when formulating a housing policy for the elderly. In part three, we analyse the housing conditions, housing wealth and housing preferences of the elderly in Norway. Based on a survey conducted in cooperation with TNS Gallup (2016), Sandlie and Gulbrandsen find that very few people aged from 50 to 71 years old have made improvements on their current dwelling. Most people (about 3 out of 4) do not plan to carry out such adjustments to their current dwelling. However, moving homes seems to be a more widespread strategy for adjusting housing for old age. About 20 percent of the people aged from 50 to 71 have moved during the last six years. The movers have to a large degree downsized and they live in smaller dwellings than non-movers. They do also live in more accessible housing than non-movers. Thus, Sandlie and Gulbrandsen argue that strategic mobility in light of old age is more common among middle aged and old people than previous research suggests. People adjust their housing for old age, but the adjustment and change of dwelling happen before they become old and pensioners. Part 4 on incentives for strategic housing investments draws on all the other parts of the report. In this part of the report, we try to answer one of the main research questions of the project “Housing for the elderly: How can the state contribute to increasing the incentives and opportunities for strategic housing investments by the elderly? In light of the findings of the report, Sørvoll argues that the authorities should emphasize provision of practical help and knowledge transmission to elderly households, housing policy for the elderly in areas with weak housing markets, and the need for the Housing Bank and the municipalities to continue refining the instruments of housing policy in light of the ageing society.Her drøftes tema av stor betydning for bolig- og omsorgspolitikken. Forskerne undersøker blant annet hva kommunene gjør for å fremme en boligforsyning som tar samfunnets aldring på alvor, og diskuterer normative premisser for eldreboligpolitikk. I tillegg analyseres utviklingen av eldres boligpreferanser, boligkapital og flyttemønstre over tid. Basert på en spørreundersøkelse via internett fra 2016 spør de i hvilken grad eldre og seniorer tilpasser sin boligsituasjon med tanke på alderdom. Dette er et viktig spørsmål all den tid kommunene kan spare penger på omsorgsboliger og institusjoner hvis flere kan bo lenger i eget hjem. Derfor diskuterer forskerne også hvordan det offentlige kan styrke mulighetene og insentivene til å investere i bolig med tanke på aldring.