Leveraging city officials’ professional and social Identities to facilitate affordable housing

Sharon Gilad, Saar Alon-Barkat, Nitzan Faibish, Sarah Goldberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Housing affordability is an acute problem in many developed economies. It is rooted, inter alia, in a conflict of interests across levels of government. Policies that seek to increase the supply of housing and lower their purchase price are popular among the general electorate, yet local governments deploy urban planning regulations to restrict densification and development of affordable housing within their jurisdictions. Moves to address this conflict would benefit from unpacking city officials' policy preferences and their variation. This paper compares the positions of local-government politicians vs. those of unelected bureaucrats in Israeli cities, drawing on survey and interview data. Our findings confirm the conflicts of interest between levels of government even within Israel's unitary, centralized context. However, we show that career bureaucrats, given their relative freedom from electoral pressures and commitment to professional values, are more amenable to citizens' and central government's shared interest in densification and affordable housing. We also highlight city officials' place of residence—within vs. outside the city—and their social identification with citizens and residents as antecedents of their urban-planning preferences. We draw on these findings to delineate directions for more effective central–local government collaboration in seeking affordable housing solutions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102570
JournalPolitical Geography
StatePublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work for this paper was financed by the Israel Science Foundation , grant number 454/16 . We thank Eran Razin, Eran Feitelson, Emily Silverman, two anonymous reviewers and the journal editors for their guidance and comments.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Affordable housing
  • Cities
  • Densification
  • Homevoter hypothesis
  • Local government

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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