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Regular version of the site

French Scholar to Speak on the Role of Public Policy in Alleviating Housing Market Tension

On November 27, Sonia Guelton, who teaches Real Estate Economics, Public Finance, and Development Economics at University Paris-Est Créteil (UPEC), will arrive at HSE to deliver several lectures over the course of a week at the Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism. Her lectures will cover housing market tensions in the EU, density in housing markets, and the role of public policy in addressing these issues. Ahead of her visit, she spoke with the HSE News Service in depth about her lectures, her research interests, and the lessons she has learned over the course of her career.

— What are you planning to focus on in your lectures at HSE Moscow? How many will be giving?

— I will be giving two lectures. The first is called ‘Tensions on housing markets in the EU; how can public policies help? The case of France’. Around the world, lack of housing is an issue in major cities due to the flow of people attracted by these cities’ amenities. What is on offer cannot meet people’s needs, either in terms of quantity or quality. In the meantime, public authorities are attempting to fill the gap using different policies. 

This lecture will focus on the general trends in housing markets in European countries that underscore several mismatches (mainly social and territorial). A second part of the presentation will cover the public initiatives that have been developed in France in order to supply housing and reduce social and territorial inequalities. A discussion will centre on the efficiency or contradiction of such policies.

The second lecture is called ‘Density, housing markets, and public policies in European cities’. This lecture aims to analyse how major trends in housing markets in Europe meet the need for density, which is likely to be a solution for sustainable development. The first part will look at the question from the point of view of households: the desire for a central location is counterbalanced by a desire for green space and social grouping of neighbourhoods. From the perspective of developers, density is not always a good financial strategy. In addition, they must cope with the lack of land and high development costs. Finally, public policies that aim to increase density in cities will be discussed in the case of tense property markets and shrinking cities. 

— What do you find so interesting about urban development and spatial planning? How do you put everything together? 

— The systemic model of urban development and spatial planning refer to my way of thinking and to the richness of human beings and development. It is extremely rewarding to be able to bring my contribution from economics and finance to improve the well-being of the population.

— What lesson have you found particularly useful in being a good student becoming a professional later?

— As a part of a larger system of knowledge, we have to respect other knowledge and practices. I have learnt much and am still learning from other people who are dealing with urban planning, and it gives me a lot of pleasure. While it is not easy, at least I’m not getting bored.

— How did your cooperation with HSE start? Are there any joint projects in the pipeline?

— My cooperation started with the summer workshops in France that were organized with the support of the Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism. We had already held several meetings in Paris and in Moscow to get to know each other and to organize a common project.

— What is your secret to not giving up and keep going in your research and studies?  

— It is necessary to achieve what we have begun, even if it takes time. And if something does not work today, it may work tomorrow, so never giving up is the aim.

— Are there any special places in Moscow you are interested in visiting?

— I would like to be able to go to the outskirts in order to compare old urban centres and new ones, but of course I am interested in the historical places too.

Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for HSE New service

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