Sebastian Kohl

Sebastian Kohl
Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies | MPIFG

PhD

About

70
Publications
16,147
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453
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Introduction
I currently work at Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies. where I do research in Comparative Political Economy and Economic Sociology of housing, mortgage and insurance markets. I am also interested in the sociology and philosophy of the social sciences. You can visit my website where you find more information and data that I made available: https://www.sebastiankohl.com/
Additional affiliations
October 2010 - October 2015

Publications

Publications (70)
Article
Full-text available
The discipline of comparative political economy (CPE) relies heavily on aggregate, country level economic indicators. However, the practices of multinational corporations have increasingly undermined this approach to measurement. The problem of indicator drift is well-documented by a growing critical literature and calls for systematic methodologic...
Article
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Contemporary capitalist societies use different institutions to manage economic risks. While different public welfare state and financial institutions (banks, capital markets) have been studied across coordinated and liberal market economies, this paper adds the private insurance sector to the study of countries' security arrangements, following up...
Article
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The comparative study of housing decommodification lags behind classical welfare state research, while housing research itself is rich in homeownership studies but lacks comparative accounts of private and social rentals due to missing comparative data. Building on existing works and various primary sources, this study presents a new collection of...
Article
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Contemporary societies are not only "risk societies", but also insurance societies. While the shift of systemic risks from the community to the individual is a distinctive trait of modernity, research on the consequences of this process has focused almost exclusively on welfare state responses aimed at re-collectivizing societal risks. Individual-l...
Article
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The Keynesian demand regime that existed until the 1970s was characterised by governments steering demand and employment through housing and infrastructure investments. By the 1980s, Western countries began to retreat from these capital-intensive subsidies and turned to the stimulation of homeownership-spreading private mortgage markets, but with t...
Article
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Recent research in economic history has found that mortgage debt in relation to GDP has taken off in the historical long run ("great mortgaging"), as growing banking assets have been redirected into mortgage credit. This paper maps the parallel long-run investment history of private (life) insurance as the much overlooked second pillar of the finan...
Technical Report
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Over the past decades, institutional landlords – from real estate companies like the German giant Vonovia to private equity companies like Blackstone, or pension funds like ABP, the Dutch pension fund for government and edu- cation employees – have minted EUR 40bn of Berlin’s houses into assets that they rent out. This is roughly double the combine...
Article
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We study long-term returns on residential real estate in 27 “superstar” cities in 15 countries over 150 years. We find that total returns in superstar cities are close to 100 basis points lower per year than in the rest of the country. House prices tend to grow faster in the superstars, but rent returns are substantially greater outside the big agg...
Article
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Recent decades have been marked by the rise of populism, the emergence of New Labour, and decline of social democratic parties. The dominant explanation for these trends is a shift in cultural attitudes, but leaves open where such a sudden shift comes from. Advancing recent cross-sectional work on the political economy of housing, this paper sugges...
Article
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Welfare is traditionally understood through social security decommodifying labor markets or social investment policies. In the domain of housing, however, welfare for homeowners is largely hidden in the tax codes' fiscal exemptions. Based on a content analysis of legislation, this paper introduces a novel yearly database of 37 countries between 191...
Article
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Recent decades have been marked by the rise of populism, the emergence of New Labour, and decline of social democratic parties. The dominant explanation for these trends is a shift in cultural attitudes, but leaves open where such a sudden shift comes from. Advancing recent cross‐sectional work on the political economy of housing, this paper sugges...
Chapter
This chapter draws on conceptual resources from debates on collective intentionality and responsibility to call into question the close links between competition, ontological atomism, and individual responsibility implied by meritocracy. Against this ‘holy trinity’, we argue that competition is not reducible to an ontology of atomized agents and in...
Article
Corporate concentration is currently being discussed as a core reason for the crisis of democratic capitalism. It is seen as a prime mover for wage stagnation and alienation, economic inequalities and discontent with democracy. A tacit coalition of progressive anti-monopoly critiques and small business promoters considers more deconcentrated corpor...
Article
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The historical-comparative study of social democracy and cooperative organization are the foster children of historical sociology. This article offers a first account of systematic ideological differences in social-democratic ideology regarding private ownership and different cooperative traditions in the housing sphere of Northern European and con...
Article
Private rental markets have become increasingly important since the Global Financial Crisis 2008–2009 and rent controls are back on the political agenda. Yet, they have received less attention from housing scholars than homeownership and public housing. This paper presents new data on the development of private tenancy legislation based on a conten...
Preprint
Recent research in economic history has found that mortgage debt in relation to GDP has taken off in the historical long run (“great mortgaging”), as growing banking assets have been redirected into mortgage credit. This paper maps the parallel long-run investment history of private (life) insurance as much overlooked second pillar of the financial...
Article
Full-text available
Since 1989, no major European merger has been able to go through without EU approval. The introduction of a centralized merger control procedure was another increase in the powers of the Commission's Directorate-General for Competition (DG COMP). While some see it playing a neo-mercantilist role in a positive European integration, others underline...
Article
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The long-run U-shaped patterns of economic inequality are standardly explained by basic economic trends (Piketty’s r>g), taxation policies, or “great levelers,” like catastrophes. This paper argues that housing policy, in particular rent control, is a neglected explanatory factor in understanding overall inequality. We hypothesize that rent control...
Article
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Competition is a constitutive feature of capitalist societies. Social conflicts over the introduction, abolition and regulation of market organization are saturated with implicit moral arguments concerning the desirability of competition. Yet, unlike private property, exchange relations and social inequalities, economic competition has rarely been...
Article
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This article argues that the explosion of mortgage finance has not led to a proportional expansion of housing supply across 17 countries in a historical perspective (1913-2016). Based on a collection of housing construction data, it shows that the co-cyclical behavior of construction, prices and mortgage credit has been followed by a decoupling of...
Chapter
Deutschsprachige Länder stechen international durch ihren hohen Mieteranteil hervor. Dies liegt nicht unbedingt an individuellen Wohnwünschen, sondern an einer weniger stark verbreiteten Eigenheimidee unter politischen Parteien im historischen Vergleich mit anderen westlichen Industrieländern, wo Eigenheimideen gerade auch unter Mitte-links Parteie...
Article
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Why durability matters? Towards a comparative economic sociology of market organization – ERRATUM - Alexander Dobeson, Sebastian Kohl
Article
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The durable structures of housing and housing institutions are often subject to long-term processes of incremental change. Nevertheless, housing studies have largely focused either on static snapshots of policies or, more recently, on the inertia of institutional path dependence, while processes of incremental change have been almost entirely negle...
Article
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Did the socialist experiment disrupt continuity in Russian urban housing? Based on a unique collection of urban data covering several hundred Russian cities and spanning three regimes across more than a century, this paper gives a nuanced account of continuities and discontinuities of housing in post-Soviet cities. Three main housing characteristic...
Article
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Traditional predictors of election outcomes in Germany are increasingly losing their explanatory power. Rather than new cultural divides, this paper introduces the idea of housing cleavages, i.e., homeownership versus tenancy and high-price versus low-price areas, drawing on macro data for electoral districts and urban neighborhoods from the last t...
Article
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What can a good's durability tell us about its market organization? This paper argues that the socially expected durability of goods is one of their most important features. It illuminates temporal and material aspects of market organization and social change across different markets. While recent literature in the sociology of markets tends to emp...
Article
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Recent works see organizational sociology at the brink of irrelevance. Against this backdrop, in this article the authors want to explore the current state of organizational sociology empirically. They employ a variety of manual, automated and semi-automated content analyses to examine research articles published in generalist sociology journals si...
Article
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The (re-)introduction of rent regulation in the form of rent controls, tenant protection or supply rationing is back on the agenda of policymakers in light of rent inflation in many global cities. While rent control as social policy promises short-term relief, economists point to their negative long-run effects on new construction. This paper prese...
Article
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The vast majority of households in the 14 major German cities live in rented housing. Over the past ten years, the ongoing real estate boom has not only boosted purchase prices but also (new) rents, while the construction of new housing has remained below average. This study examines how the boom in the rental market has affected the urban tenant p...
Article
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Deutschland ist, ähnlich wie seine deutschsprachigen Nachbarländer, ein Land der Mieterinnen und Mieter. Mit 51,4 Prozent ist die personenbasierte Wohneigentumsquote im Jahr 2017 im europäischen Vergleich besonders niedrig (Eurostat, 2019). In Österreich ist sie mit 55 Prozent unwesentlich höher (2017), in der Schweiz mit 42,5 Prozent niedriger (20...
Article
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Deutschland steht vor einer neuen Wohnungsfrage. Der anhaltende Boom am Immobilienmarkt spaltet die Gesellschaft in Gewinner und Verlierer. Auf der einen Seite haben die Preissteigerungen seit 2011 deutsche Immobilienbesitzer um etwa 3 Billionen Euro reicher gemacht. Diese Vermögenzuwächse entsprechen in etwa dem deutschen Bruttoinlandsprodukt eine...
Article
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The hypothesis of a trade-off between homeownership and welfare state provision, first proposed by Jim Kemeny around 1980, is a foundational claim in the political economy of housing. However, the evidence for this hypothesis is unclear at both macro and micro levels. This paper examines the link between welfare and homeownership at the macro level...
Article
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Bisher stand die empirische Forschung zu Mietwohnungsmärkten nicht im Fokus vergleichender Wohnungsforschung. Mit Blick auf die Debatte um steigende Mieten kann vergleichende Forschung zum Mietwohnungsmarkt zum Erkenntnisgewinn beitragen. Neue Daten aus 25 Industrieländern ermöglichen es nun, die Entwicklung der staatlichen Regulierung von Mieten z...
Article
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This paper explains the different trajectories of German and American competition policy and its permissiveness toward economic concentration in the last few decades. While the German political economy had moved to a stronger antitrust regime after 1945 and stuck to it even after the economic governance shifts of the 1980s, the traditional antitrus...
Chapter
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Es besteht relativ einhellige Meinung darüber, dass es in Deutschland (vgl. Positionen des IW Köln, ifo Instituts oder DIW Berlin), aber auch in anderen nordeuropäischen Ländern einen Mangel an neuem Wohnungsbau gibt, insbesondere im Bereich großstädtischer und günstiger Mietwohnungen. Als einer der verantwortlichen Faktoren werden häufig staatlich...
Article
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In the shadow of homeownership and public housing, social policy through the regulation of private rental markets is a neglected and underestimated ?eld of social policy. This paper, therefore, presents unique new data on the development of private tenancy legislation through the binary coding of rent control, the protection of tenants from evictio...
Article
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America’s ‘infatuation with homeownership’ has been identified as one cause of the latest financial crisis. Based on codings of 1809 party manifestos in 19 countries since 1945, this article addresses the question of where the political ideal to democratize homeownership came from. While conservative parties have defended homeownership across count...
Article
Comparative housing scholars have, for many years now, imported typologies from non-housing spheres to explain housing phenomena. Notably, approaches attempting to account for divergent housing tenure patterns and trends have frequently been organized around typologies based on the assumption that a causal relationship exists between homeownership...
Article
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America’s “infatuation with homeownership” has been identified as one cause of the latest financial crisis. Based on codings of 1,809 party manifestos in 19 OECD countries since 1945, this paper addresses the question of where the political ideal to democratize homeownership came from. While conservative parties have defended homeownership across c...
Article
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Contemporary Western cities are not uniform but display a variety of different housing forms and tenures, both between and within countries. We distinguish three general city types in this paper: low rise, single-family dwelling cities where owner-occupation is the most prevalent tenure form; multi-dwelling building cities where tenants comprise th...
Article
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Recent research has emphasized the negative effects of finance on macroeconomic performance and even cautioned of a “finance curse.” As one of the main drivers of financial sector growth, mortgages have traditionally been hailed as increasing the number of homeowners in a country. This article uses long-run panel data for seventeen countries betwee...
Article
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Bis zur Finanzkrise im Jahr 2007 herrschte in vielen Ländern die politische Idee vor, dass Gesellschaften mit mög­lichst vielen Hauseigentümern wünschenswert seien. Historisch war sie als konservative Reaktion auf die Industria­lisierung entstanden. Sie wurde in manchen Ländern aber auch bis weit in das linke Parteienspektrum hinein geteilt. Erst n...
Article
This paper advances the first historically informed typology of housing finance systems. Using a novel collection of historical mortgage-market data, we identify four different ‘ideal type’ systems, which developed in mature economies when organised housing finance institutions began to emerge with the advance of industrialism and urbanism througho...
Book
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On the eve of the financial crisis, the USA was inhabited by almost 70 percent homeowning households, in comparison to about 45 percent in Germany. Homeownership, Renting and Society presents new evidence showing that this homeownership gap already existed between American and German cities around 1900. Existing explanations based on culture, gover...
Article
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In this paper, we argue that the complexion of housing finance systems in OECD countries, both now and historically, has a significant bearing on a number of core housing-related indicators, including housing form, tenure composition, and urban development. Existing literature in the fields of housing studies and comparative political economy, howe...
Article
Full-text available
This paper explains the different trajectories of German and American competition policy and its permissiveness towards economic concentration in the last few decades. While the German political economy had moved to a stronger antitrust regime after 1945 and stuck to it even after the economic governance shifts of the 1980s, the traditional antitru...
Chapter
Full-text available
Article
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The homeownership rate in the United States has continuously been about 20 percentage points higher than that of Germany. This homeownership gap is traced back to before the First World War at the urban level. Existing approaches, relying on socio-economic factors, demographics, culture or housing policy, cannot explain the persistence of these dif...
Article
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Comparative welfare and production regime literature has so far neglected the considerable cross-country differences in the sphere of housing. The United States became a country of homeowners living in cities of single-family houses in the twentieth century. Its housing policy was focused on supporting private mortgage indebtedness with only residu...
Article
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Deutschland weist im internationalen Vergleich eine hohe Quote von Mieterhaushalten auf, wo­hin­gegen insbesondere in angelsächsisch geprägten Ländern bereits seit dem frühen zwanzigsten Jahr­hun­dert in erster Linie Hauseigentümer wohnen. Oft werden diese Unterschiede durch anders gela­gerte kulturelle Präferenzen oder verschiedenartige Wohnungspo...
Article
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This paper uses the work and employs the tools of the German philosopher Martin Heidegger to attempt to improve sociology. Heidegger's thinking is employed primarily to undo a paradox of sociology. Sociology focuses on the social, but starts with the assumption of essentially non-social egos that somehow generate a social world. This 'egologism' ha...
Article
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Projects

Projects (5)
Project
This project brings private insurance into the bank- or public-welfare focused political economy and sociological literature. It tries to understand the complex interplay between insurance, capitalism and society on macro-, meso- and micro-levels in historical-comparative long-run perspective.
Project
This projects assembles texts in soc. theory, empirical sociology of sociology and the philosophy of the social sciences.