The Netherlands: A Radical Departure from Neoliberal and Financialized Housing Policies?


  • Jannes van Loon WoningBouwersNL




A significant body of literature has extensively documented the transition towards more market-oriented, neoliberal, and frequently financialized systems of housing production. This transition has often depicted market actors as influential entities capable of shaping policies and laws in their favor. Numerous case studies have exemplified the Netherlands as a primary illustration of this phenomenon, demonstrating the sequential neoliberalization of housing production during the 1990s followed by financialization in the 2000s (Aalbers et al., 2021).

From the postwar reconstruction period until the 1980s, housing corporations and state agencies spearheaded housing production through a centralized spatial planning system. However, starting from the 1990s, real estate development corporations and investors have ascended, introducing a more market-oriented approach primarily focused on housing for higher and middle-income groups.

Nevertheless, as spatial planning decentralized during the same period, municipalities gained the ability to 'reshape' dominant tendencies of financialization and neoliberalization. Amsterdam stands out as an intriguing case, boasting an attractive housing investment market that has fostered a vibrant, internationalized landscape of real estate investors (Taşan-Kok et al., 2021). Despite this, the local council maintains high social and sustainability goals. Leveraging its extensive land holdings and planning authority, the municipality of Amsterdam successfully steered financialization forces towards facilitating local housing policy objectives, resulting in 80% of all new housing being designated for low and middle-income households.

Moreover, at the national level, sentiment against financialization processes, particularly real estate investors, has shifted dramatically. There has been a recent radical policy shift away from neoliberal and financialized housing policies towards centralized, state-led initiatives aimed at boosting housing production, particularly for low and middle-income households. However, this shift presents challenges within a housing production system where local government bodies wield significant power and often harbor conflicting housing policies.

This paper examines these contradictions: to what extent is it feasible for the central government to enact radical shifts in housing policies within a decentralized spatial system? Furthermore, to what extent is it financially viable to transition from a housing production system primarily financed by market actors to one predominantly funded by housing associations and state agencies? Alternatively, is it feasible to enact policy changes while shifting the financial burden onto market actors?





Manuel B. Aalbers, Cody Hochstenbach, Jelke Bosma & Rodrigo Fernandez (2021) The Death and Life of Private Landlordism: How Financialized Homeownership Gave Birth to the Buy-To-Let Market, Housing, Theory and Society, 38:5, 541-563

Taşan-Kok, T., Özogul, S., & Legarza, A. (2021). After the crisis is before the crisis: Reading property market shifts through Amsterdam’s changing landscape of property investors. European Urban and Regional Studies, 28(4), 375-394.