Honors Theses

Date of Award

Fall 11-25-2020

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Croft Institute for International Studies

First Advisor

Joshua First

Second Advisor

James Thomas

Third Advisor

William Schenck

Relational Format



The demand for affordable housing across OECD countries has sky-rocketed as the number of those cost-burdened by housing continues to increase each year. Social housing has been the traditional means by which governments have provided affordable housing to citizens, however in recent years the social housing systems of many countries have been strained to meet the rising demand for affordable housing. While this has consistently been an area of concern for major metropolitan areas, areas outside of cities are being impacted by the lack of affordable housing, as well.

This study seeks to address the impact of social housing systems on providing affordable housing options outside of metropolitan areas in France and the United States since the year 2000. For the affordable housing crisis in these two countries to be addressed holistically, we must consider the impact of social housing policy in rural and suburban areas in addition to major cities, as decisions made at the national level on how to provide housing for middle and low-income people have a major impact on communities and individuals across these two countries.

This study will consist of three major parts. The first part is an analysis of social housing expenditure across 12 OECD countries to form a base of comparison for France and the United States. The second part is an examination of the social housing systems of France and the United States to determine their capabilities in providing affordable housing. Finally, the third part is analysis of two case studies, Angers, France and Oxford, MS, to explore the impact of social housing systems on cost-burdened persons in areas outside cities.

This study found that France and the United States had typical expenditures on public housing when compared to other OECD countries; however, France spent $147.54 more per person on average than the United States between 2000-2015. This difference in spending seems to have positively impacted the supply of social housing in France and allowed for a greater cross-section of society to access social housing and housing allowances. In contrast, privatization and the favoring of homeownership policies have resulted in limited social housing availability in the United States. These findings were mirrored at the local level in the case studies, as well.

Ultimately, without drastic measures to increase access to affordable housing in the United States, the number of cost-burdened people will most likely continue to grow. France, however, seems prepared to continue facing this challenge with a large base supply of social housing and policies facilitating further growth of the system across France.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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