Rethinking the Economics of Land and Housing

Josh Ryan-Collins, Toby Lloyd and Laurie Macfarlane
With a Foreword by John Muellbauer


A comprehensive, critical but accessible guide to the role of land in housing policy and how it has been excluded from mainstream economic theory.

Why are house prices in many advanced economies rising faster than incomes? Why isn’t land and location taught or seen as important in modern economics? What is the relationship between the financial system and land?

In this accessible but provocative guide to the economics of land and housing, the authors reveal how many of the key challenges facing modern economies - including housing crises, financial instability and growing inequalities - are intimately tied to the land economy. Looking at the ways in which discussions of land have been routinely excluded from both housing policy and economic theory, the authors show that in order to tackle these increasingly pressing issues a major rethink by both politicians and economists is required.

Author Bio

Josh Ryan-Collins is senior economist at the New Economics Foundation, as well as a visiting research fellow at the University of Southampton Business School. He was the lead author of Where Does Money Come From?

Toby Lloyd is head of housing development at Shelter. He was formerly deputy chief executive of the Henry George Foundation, following which he spent two years at the London Rebuilding Society developing non-profit equity release products for vulnerable homeowners in London’s East End.

Laurie Macfarlane is an economist at the New Economics Foundation. Prior to this, Laurie worked closely with Common Weal, a progressive Scottish think tank, and spent four years working as an economist for Scottish and UK government agencies.

The New Economics Foundation is the only people-powered think tank. It works to build a new economy where people really take control.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword by John Muellbauer
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Land Ownership and Property
  • 3. The Missing Factor: Land in Production and Distribution
  • 4. Land for Housing: Land Economics in the Modern Era
  • 5. The Financialisation of Land and Housing
  • 6. Land, Wealth and Inequality
  • 7. Putting Land Back into Economics and Policy


'A lucid exposition of the dysfunctional British housing market.'
Financial Times - Best Books of 2017

'The book that did the most to alter my perception of the world.'
Bloomberg - Must-reads of 2017

'The most important book I read this year.'
Times Higher Education - Best Books of 2017

'Extremely useful'
Institute of Place Management - Best Books of 2017

'This excellent book is both thorough and comprehensive. I am convinced that it will quickly become an important reference for the general public and for economists, and hopefully also for policymakers.’
Michael Kumhof, Senior Research Advisor, Bank of England

'Analyses the subject with excellent clarity. Read it and you will understand the crucial underlying drivers of rising debt, increasing inequality and financial crises.’
Adair Turner, Chairman of the Institute of New Economic Thinking

'Lucid and convincing... Economics is evolving and this crucial book is a key part of its transformation.’
Danny Dorling, author of All That Is Solid: How the Great Housing Disaster Defines Our Times

'Takes a fresh and comprehensive look at the problems created by a failure to consider the role of land in the economy of the UK. It proposes a wide range of solutions which policymakers should consider.'
Kate Barker, author of the Barker Review of UK Housing Supply

‘A comprehensive survey of the role of land in the economy and its neglect in economics, as well as a profile of how ownership of this essential requirement for life has become unattainable for the majority of young Britons.’
Steve Keen, author of Debunking Economics

‘Long overdue. It returns land to its central role in both economic theory and in built environment discourses.’
Duncan Bowie, author of Radical Solutions to the Housing Supply Crisis

'This is an admirable book. It provides a powerful critique of the UK’s failed policies towards land and housing and it sets out an ambitious but credible set of alternatives which merit serious debate. But it also offers a critique of the inadequate treatment of land and housing by mainstream economics that can travel far beyond the UK.'
LSE Review of Books


Publication Date: 28 February 2017
280 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781786991188
Hardback: 9781786991195
eBook ePub: 9781786991218
eBook PDF: 9781786991201
eBook Kindle: 9781786991225

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