Housing movements and women in Taiwan (台灣的住房運動與婦女)

11/07/2019 - 10:35 to 11/07/2019 - 12:05
Proposal(Workshop / Presentation)
Coordinating organization: 
University of Wyoming
Policy and Legislation
Organization Name: 
University of Wyoming (懷俄明大學)
Proposer: ychen8@uwyo.edu
Describe your workshop/presentation (300-500 words): 
There are three distinctive characteristics of Taiwan’s housing markets: high homeownership, a high vacancy rate, and high housing prices. Housing can be used as an effective mechanism for storing wealth and has become a speculative tool (Chen and Bih, 2014). Compared to the OECD countries, the homeownership rate in Taiwan reached 84.3% in 2017 (Construction and Planning Agency, 2018: 9). The homeownership rate in Taiwan is higher than in all the OECD countries except Spain. The total mortgage debt was 38.2% of GDP in 2014 (Central Bank, 2014). The level of mortgage debt is about in the middle of the pack relative to those countries, and is increasing just like it is in those countries, too (Schwartz & Seabrooke, 2009: 16-17). The proportion of social rental housing relative to the total housing stock remains very low in 2018: a mere 0.157%. The proportion of social housing in Taiwan is so low as to be almost non-existent. These statistics show the features of privatization and financialization of Taiwan’s housing policies. Furthermore, Taiwan has a more serious problem, in terms of housing affordability, than other OECD countries. Mortgage payments have accounted for more than 30% of household income since 2011 in Taiwan. The problem is especially severe in the capital, Taipei City, where the ratio of median housing prices to median annual household income rose from 6.1 to 15.0 between 2002 and 2018 (see Table 1). While this ratio is lower than Hong Kong’s figure of 17, it is higher than most North American, Japanese, and European cities, according to the Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey (2015).

High housing prices have been the major cause for the housing movements in Taiwan. This paper will examine two major housing movements, Shell-less Snail Movement in the 1989 and Social Housing Movement since 2010. It will explain the contexts of the two movements, their impacts on housing policies, and how women are affected by policy changes.

The paper argues that Women’s movements in Taiwan have been less focused on the housing issue for several reasons. Urban planning and architecture are still male-dominated, so the design of housing has limited feminist perspectives. Homeownership has been the primary ideology, so the affordability of housing is the major concern for most people, including women. Another very important reason for this is that women’s housing problems remain invisible because of the lack of information on this issue.