Essays and Essay Planning Guidance This advice sheet contains advice about how to plan and write essays. The advice is drawn from a number of different academic websites. First, there is a general guide to writing essays (both in semester time and in exams). This compliments the Department of Politics and Public Administration essay writing guide that can be found at http://www. politics. ul. ie and in the Politics and Public Administration handbook that you will be given at the start of the year. Second, there are 3 guides to essay planning: Guide to essay planning 1 (from http//my. underland. ac. uk/web/services/l ds/bstudent_support/bstudy_skills/essay. doc Guide to essay planning 2 (from: http://www. mantex. co. uk/samples/plan. htm) : Guide to essay planning 3 (from http://www. clpd. bbk. ac. uk/students/ Essayplanning) Read all three. The advice given in each is fairly similar but you may find that one way – or some combination of ways – works best for you. Following the three guides there are a couple of sample plans (there is also a sample in the second Guide to essay planning).
These are different in lay out to what you might produce using the Essay Planning Sheet for the essay plan assessment task but they give you an idea of the ways that you might plan in for the essay for this module and in the future. 1 Writing a Political Science Essay © Copyright 1997, Charles King, Georgetown University Essay questions, term papers, “take-home” finals, research papers, and project reports are standard components of most political science courses.
Professors may ask students to write an essay as part of a mid-term of final exam, or to hand in extended papers completed outside class that have required substantial research in the library or elsewhere. These kinds of assignments not only give professors a chance to evaluate your skills as a writer and as a critical thinker – two skills that you should take away from any university course – but they also provide the opportunity for you to reflect seriously on particular issues and to use your creative powers to address fundamental conceptual questions in the study of politics.
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In other words, essays, term papers and other written assignments give you the chance to “get your hands dirty” by grappling with the same broad questions that inform the work of professional political scientists. Writing essays and papers allows you to think long and hard about such critical issues as: What is democracy? What makes people vote for Party A and not for Party B? Do ideas affect the way people behave politically? Why do revolutions occur? How do states interact in the international arena? What determines the shape of a state’s foreign policy?
Why do countries go to war? In tackling essay-writing, especially in the “essay question” section of exams, students often face three problems: • First, some students may feel that they just don’t know where to begin. “How can I answer a question that’s so broad? I just don’t have enough information. ” Second, even if they feel they know something about the subject, they may wonder how to organize the information in order to present a coherent and convincing argument. “How do I begin to put together all the various pieces to the puzzle so that what I say makes sense? Finally, students may be unsure about the relationship between the presentation of factual information and the expression of their own views on the issue at hand. “The professor never told me whether he wanted me to repeat what he had said in class, or if he was just looking for my opinion. ” • • Below are some general guidelines on how to deal with these troubling questions, especially in the area of writing answers to essay questions on exams. Clearly, professors have their own individual – and sometimes idiosyncratic – views on the place of essay-writing and other written assignments in university education.
But the ideas below should help you begin to assess how you should approach essays, term papers and other assignments that require both extensive writing and serious reflection on important conceptual issues. Start at the Beginning When you first read an essay question on an exam (or begin to think about an assigned topic for a term paper or take-home final), you should ask yourself two sets of questions: 1. What does the essay question really say? What kinds of issues is it asking me to address? What assumptions underlie the question itself? 2 Professors ask essay questions for a reason.
They use essays as a way of getting you to go beyond the material presented in class and in the required readings for the course. They intend for you to reflect critically on the information you have read, assess its validity, think about its implications, and use it creatively in order to answer the question that has been posed. So, when you encounter an essay question, spend a few minutes thinking about what the question really asks, and make sure that you have a clear idea of the kinds of issues and concepts that the question is trying to get you to address. 2.
What are the most useful sources of information on which I can draw in order to answer the question? What kinds of data will best support my argument? During any semester-long course, you will encounter a huge amount of information, both factual and conceptual. Many students treat essay questions as “dumping grounds” for the information that they acquired in the days and weeks preceding the exam. They pile on fact after fact, concept after concept, date after date, name after name, with little thought about whether all this information helps them answer the question. If I throw in enough stuff,” a student may say, “at least the professor will know that I’ve been paying attention. ” Wrong. The professor will know that you have managed to cram a great deal of irrelevant information into your short-term memory. But whether you have really thought about the issues at hand and used the knowledge you have gained in order to reflect critically on an important question will remain a mystery. So, after you feel that you understand the kind of response that the essay question is trying to elicit, ask yourself about which bits of information will be the most relevant to your response.
Don’t try to throw everything into the pot. Be selective. Use those facts and ideas that are most helpful in supporting your overall argument. After doing the reading and attending the lectures, you do have enough information to answer the question effectively. What is crucial, though, is to organize the information and to present it in a way that buttresses the main theme of your essay. Organization Is Everything Because they have not stopped to ask themselves the questions above, many students plunge right into an essay without thinking about how to organize their thoughts. If I just get enough stuff down on paper,” a student might argue, “then the professor will at least know that I’ve tried to answer the question. ” Wrong again. The professor will know that you are a wind-bag – not that you have thought seriously about the question. Once you are sure that you know what the question is asking and have spent a few minutes reflecting on the kinds of information that you want to use in attempting to answer it, spend a further few minutes sketching out the form that your answer will take.
Here are a few ideas on how to begin: Make an Outline Sketch out how you plan to structure the essay. You can even use the exam booklet or the back of the exam in order to write a brief outline, flow chart, diagram, or whatever form you find the most helpful in organizing your thoughts. The important thing is to have a clear idea of what you want to say and how you are going to say it – before you begin writing the essay itself. There is an additional advantage to writing an outline or essay plan: It may turn out that you simply budgeted your time poorly and did not have time to complete the entire essay as you had planned. But if the professor sees that you had a clear idea of what you wanted to argue, you are likely to receive at least some credit for what you have written. On the other hand, if you have managed to fill up a dozen pages without making a coherent argument, chances are that the professor will remain relatively unimpressed. Keep It Simple Think back to eighth grade composition class. Remember the “three-point enumeration” essays you probably had to write? They consisted of an opening paragraph, three further substantive paragraphs and a conclusion.
The opening paragraph set out the general ideas you were going to explore, the three following paragraphs expanded on each of those ideas, and the final paragraph wrapped up what you had said. The same format – with perhaps some modifications – can be used to write responses to essay questions. • Opening sentence and first paragraph: State clearly the main point that you wish to make in the essay. In other words, someone should be able to read the first sentence and know exactly how you plan to answer the question.
Don’t try to be too cute, but a catchy opening sentence which states simply and clearly the line of argument you intend to take is always desirable. Other sentences in the first paragraph should then support the first sentence and sketch out the ways in which subsequent paragraphs will expand on the theme of the essay itself. Body of the Essay: For normal essay questions on exams (say, those in which you have an hour to complete two essays), you should have no more than three or four paragraphs in the body of the essay. Each paragraph should make a clear and discrete point, and that point should support your overall argument.
If it doesn’t, don’t write it. Your thoughts in the body of the essay should follow on logically from the points you set out in the opening paragraph. And each paragraph should begin just like the opening paragraph, with a clear statement of the topic that the paragraph will address. Concluding Paragraph: Sum up what you have said in the essay in a final paragraph. Remind the reader of your main point, but avoid repeating it in exactly the same words. End the essay with a sentence that wraps up your thoughts and leaves the reader with a sense of closure. • •
Your Your Opinion Is More Than “Just Your Opinion” Essay questions are not extended short-answer questions, and they are not exercises in penmanship. A professor puts essay questions on exams not in order to see if you can repeat verbatim what he/she said in class, but in order to solicit your informed views on a particular subject that you should have mastered in the course. In this sense, essay questions do ask for your “opinion,” but it is an opinion that should be intelligent, informed and well-structured. No conceptual questions in political science have “once-and-for-all” answers.
Essay questions ask you to address important issues by using your brain – constructing a coherent, logical and informed view on a given topic. After sitting in a course of lectures and doing the required reading, you are more than capable of completing such a task. Your “opinions” should have evolved and become more sophisticated, and you should have developed a reasonable level of expertise in the main issues addressed during 4 the course itself. Your “opinions” matter, for they were what your professor was trying to get you to develop all along. Again, essays are not simply receptacles for regurgitated factual information.
Your knowledge of facts can be assessed using multiple-choice questions, true/false, identify, define, short-answer and a range of other examination formats, most of which you probably experienced in grade school. At the college level, however, you are expected to think. And thinking requires creatively using the knowledge you have acquired to take a clear position on a contentious issue. How do you do all that? Here a few guidelines: • Make An Argument. Take a stance. Stake out a position. Argue for a particular point of view. Simply reeling off dates and names – or even using political science jargon – will not do the trick.
Support Your Argument. Use relevant facts, concepts and other information to buttress the points you wish to make. Throwing in irrelevant information will impress no one. It will simply cloud your argument and convince the professor that you really don’t know what you’re talking about. Be Creative. How creatively you make your argument is always important. Style matters. Some professors may even prefer essays that are wellstructured and well-written but not particularly brilliant, to those that contain a truly original insight cloaked in language that would make Webster and Fowler turn in their graves.
But be careful: Don’t get cute. Writing a sonnet or a short one-act play is probably not a good idea. You should, however, bring all your skills as a writer to bear on the essay topic. After all, that’s why the question is an essay question, rather than a true/false or short-answer. • • Answer the Question. Let me repeat: Answer the question. If you write page after page of text, but never really address the issue at hand, few professors are likely to give you much credit. Always keep your overall point in mind, and make sure that everything you write relates back to your central argument.
And that argument, in turn, should squarely address the question posed on the exam. From: http://www9. georgetown. edu/faculty/kingch/Writing_PolSci_Essay. htm 5 Guide to Essay Planning 1 1. Begin with the essay title. Make sure you understand it. The verb or verbs in the title are most important as these tell you how to approach or treat the subject. The following words are examples of verbs commonly seen in academic essay assignments: analyse; consider; evaluate; discuss; outline; explain; justify. Draw a circle around the verb(s) in the title.
If you are not sure what some words mean, check their definition in a dictionary. 2. Now find the main topic in the title. Underline it. 3. Check to see if there are highlighted. any other key words or phrases that need to be 4. Some students find brainstorming at this point very useful. Sit down with a blank sheet of paper. In the centre of the page write down the assignment question. In the space around the title, write all the words, phrases, questions and issues associated with it. These can come out in any order. It doesn’t matter what you write now as you can reject ideas later.
This process activates your thoughts and helps you to engage with the question. If this approach doesn’t help and you find it difficult to get started, try explaining to another student, a friend or relative what you consider the essay to be about. Tell them how you are going to approach it. Encourage them to ask you questions about the title. 5. In order to focus your attention during the information gathering phase, you could ask yourself some questions about the main topic. Your search for answers to these questions will focus your attention and may stop you gathering material that is not relevant to the task. . Unless you have been told otherwise, stick to this simple structure for your essay; A B C D E Introduction Main body (divided into paragraphs) Conclusion References Bibliography At this point it is useful to think about the balance of your essay. Next to points A, B, and C above, you can write down the approximate number words you are going to write. Remember, references and bibliography are not included in the total number of words. As a rough guide, the introduction and conclusion should each be about one tenth of the total number of words. The main body will account for the rest.
For example, in a 2000 word assignment, the introduction and conclusion would each be about 200 words. Therefore, the main body would be about 1600 words. The main body will be divided into paragraphs each one addressing a sub-topic of the main theme. In our example, if the main body were divided into 8 paragraphs of equal importance they would all be approximately 200 words long. In reality of course, some paragraphs will be longer than others. Deciding in advance how your essay will be balanced and which order your paragraphs will appear may stop you writing far too much or far too little on each sub-topic. 7. Now you need to create an essay outline. Do this on one side of A4 paper. Make headings and sub-headings using key words to show the order of the points you want to make. It is worth spending a while getting this part right as the rest of the essay will flow from it. You should expect to modify your outline a few times while you are gathering material and doing research but once you begin to write you should be confident that you have included all the main points and you should not make any more significant changes. Use your essay outline to guide your writing.
If it is a good outline it will stop you from going off on a tangent or from missing important points. REMEMBER Introduction – briefly explains the purpose and content of the essay. Says how you intend to answer the question. Defines terms and outlines the background to your subject. Main Body – consists of several paragraphs each one addressing a sub-topic of the main theme. Support your ideas with references to other work and some quotations. Each paragraph should begin with a sentence which introduces the sub-topic. The following sentences should support the lead sentence.
When you are ready to write about a different, but related sub-topic, close your paragraph with a sentence which indicates to the reader that you are moving on. Conclusion – summarises the key ideas you have expanded in the main body and question. answers the question Take care not to introduce any new ideas in the conclusion. Think about these statements when you begin to draft your essay. • • • • Use a new paragraph for each sub-topic. Don’t assume too much. Explain obscure references. Balance your main points. Decide if all points need equal attention. Think about structure.
Move from general to specific points, strongest argument to weakest argument, causes to consequences, important to less important, or simply structure ideas chronologically. USEFUL TIPS Even with an outline for your writing you may have difficulty getting started. Here are some ideas which may help. • Start in the middle or at the end. You do not have to write your essay in the same way that you would write a story. If you are required to draw on experience or use case studies, you will probably find this the easiest bit to write, so do it first. This may encourage you to continue.
If you good keyboard skills you may find that using a word-processor makes writing less tiring. You can use the edit facility to delete text or move text around until you have it in the order you want. When writing in long-hand, make a rough draft using every other line on the paper. This makes your work easier to edit. Focus on one section or paragraph of the essay at a time. If you write a little and often you will eventually complete the task but it might not seem such a chore. • • • 7 • Remind yourself that it isn’t going to be perfect first time. You should always expect to write at least one rough draft. From http//my. underland. ac. uk/web/services/lds/bstudent_support/bstudy_skills/ essay. doc 8 Guide to Essay Planning 2 1. Strategy You can approach the composition of an essay using a number of different writing strategies. Some people like to start writing and wait to see what develops. Others work up scraps of ideas until they perceive a shape emerging. However, if you are in any doubt at all, it’s a good idea to plan your work. The task of writing is usually much easier if you create a set of notes which outline the points you are going to make. Using this approach, you will create a basic structure on which your ideas can be built. . Plans This is a part of the essay-writing process which is best carried out using plenty of scrap paper. Get used to the idea of shaping and re-shaping your ideas before you start writing, editing and rearranging your arguments as you give them more thought. Planning on-screen using a word-processor is possible, but it’s a fairly advanced technique. 3. Analyse the question Make sure you understand what the question is asking for. What is it giving you the chance to write about? What is its central issue? Analyse any of its key terms and any instructions.
If you are in any doubt, ask your tutor to explain what is required. 4. Generate ideas You need to assemble ideas for the essay. On a first sheet of paper, make a note of anything which might be relevant to your answer. These might be topics, ideas, observations, or instances from your study materials. Put down anything you think of at this stage. 5. Choosing topics On a second sheet of paper, extract from your brainstorm listings those topics and points of argument which are of greatest relevance to the question and its central issue. Throw out anything which cannot be directly related to the essay question. . Put topics in order On a third sheet of paper, put these chosen topics in some logical sequence. At this stage you should be formulating a basic response to the question, even if it is provisional and may later be changed. Try to arrange the points so that they form a persuasive and coherent argument. 7. Arrange your evidence All the major points in your argument need to be supported by some sort of evidence. On any further sheets of paper, compile a list of brief quotations from other sources (together with page references) which will be offered as your evidence. . Make necessary changes Whilst you have been engaged in the first stages of planning, new ideas may have come to mind. Alternate evidence may have occurred to you, or the line of your argument may have shifted somewhat. Be prepared at this stage to rearrange your plan so that it incorporates any of these new materials or ideas. Try out different arrangements of your essay topics until you are sure they form the most convincing and logical sequence. 9 9. Finalise essay plan The structure of most essay plans can be summarised as Introduction – Arguments Conclusion.
State your case as briefly and rapidly as possible, present the evidence for this case in the body of your essay, then sum up and try to ‘lift’ the argument to a higher level in your conclusion. Your final plan should be something like a list of half a dozen to ten major points of argument. Each one of these points will be expanded to a paragraph of something around 100-200 words minimum in length. 10. Relevance At all stages of essay planning, and even when writing the essay, you should keep the question in mind. Keep asking yourself ‘Is this evidence directly relevant to the topic I have been asked to discuss? If in doubt, be prepared to scrap plans and formulate new ones – which is much easier than scrapping finished essays. At all times aim for clarity and logic in your argument. 11. Example Example What follows is an example of an outline plan drawn up in note form. It is in response to the question ‘Do you think that depictions of sex and violence in the media should or should not be more heavily censored? ‘. [It is worth studying the plan in its entirety. Take note of its internal structure. ] ‘Do you think that depictions of sex and violence in the media should or should not be more heavily censored? Introduction Sex, violence, and censorship all emotive subjects Case against censorship 1. Aesthetic: inhibits artistic talent, distorts art and truth. 2. Individual judgement: individuals have the right to decide for themselves what they watch or read. Similarly, nobody has the right to make up someone else’s mind. 3. Violence and sex as catharsis (release from tension): portrayal of these subjects can release tension through this kind of experience at ‘second hand’. 4. Violence can deter: certain films can show violence which reinforces opposition to it, e. g. – A Clockwork Orange, All Quiet on the Western Front. 5.
Censorship makes sex dirty: we are too repressed about this subject, and censorship sustains the harmful mystery which has surrounded us for so long. 6. Politically dangerous: Censorship in one area can lead to it being extended to others – e. g. , political ideas. 7. Impractical: Who decides? How is it to be done? Is it not impossible to be ‘correct’? Any decision has to be arbitrary Case for censorship 10 1. Sex is private and precious: it should not be demeaned by representations of it in public. 2. Sex can be offensive: some people may find it so and should not have to risk being exposed to what they would find pornographic. . Corruption can be progressive: can begin with sex and continue until all ‘decent values’ are eventually destroyed. 4. Participants might be corrupted: especially true of young children. 5. Violence can encourage imitation: by displaying violence – even while condemning it -it can be legitimised and can also encourage imitation amongst a dangerous minority. 6. Violence is often glorified: encourages callous attitudes. Conclusion Case against censorship much stronger. No necessary connection between the two topics. From: http://www. mantex. co. uk/samples/plan. htm : 11 Planning Guide to Essay Planning 3
Strategy Many students, after having analysed an essay topic, may go straight to the library and read extensively on the subject. It is only after doing this research that they feel confident enough to start thinking and planning out their answer. Such an approach can be a mistake, however. They may find themselves producing a myriad of notes and then being at a loss to figure how these notes can be transformed into a coherent piece of writing. Before you read too much (or if possible, before you read anything at all), it is a good idea to do as much thinking and planning around the topic as you can.
The benefit of this approach is that right from the start you can begin to get a sense of the shape your essay will take. It also means you can be more strategic in your reading, allowing you to search for specific reading materials rather than collecting a mass of material that may ultimately have limited relevance to your work. The task of writing is usually much easier if you create a set of notes which outline the points you are going to make. Using this approach, you will create a basic structure on which your ideas can be built. Plan This is a part of the essay-writing process that is best carried out using plenty of scrap paper.
Get used to the idea of shaping and re-shaping your ideas before you start writing, editing and rearranging your arguments as you give them more thought. Planning onscreen using a word-processor is possible, but it’s a fairly advanced technique, and it doesn’t allow as much freedom to move ideas around and see them in relation to each other. Analyse the question Make sure you understand what the question is asking for. What is it giving you the chance to write about? What is its central issue? Analyse any of its key terms and any instructions. If you are in any doubt, ask your tutor to explain what is required.
Generate ideas You need to assemble ideas for the essay. One way is to take a sheet of paper and make a note of anything which might be relevant to your answer. These might be topics, ideas, observations, or instances from your study materials. Put down anything you think of at this stage. Decide on topics On another sheet of paper, extract from your brainstorm listings those topics and points of argument which are of greatest relevance to the question and its central issue. Throw out anything which cannot be directly related to the essay question.
Put topics in order On a third sheet of paper, put these chosen topics in some logical sequence. At this stage you should be formulating a basic response to the question, even if it is provisional and 12 may later be changed. Try to arrange the points so that they form a persuasive and coherent argument. Arrange your evidence All the major points in your argument need to be supported by some sort of evidence. On any further sheets of paper, compile a list of brief quotations from other sources (together with page references) which will be offered as your evidence.
Compile a reference list as you collect sources. Use a recognised referencing style such as the Harvard “author/date” method. Make necessary changes While you have been engaged in the first stages of planning, new ideas may have come to mind. Alternate evidence may have occurred to you, or the line of your argument may have shifted somewhat. Be prepared at this stage to rearrange your plan so that it incorporates any of these new materials or ideas. Try out different arrangements of your essay topics until you are sure they form the most convincing and logical sequence.
Finalise essay plan The structure of most essay plans can be summarised as Introduction – Arguments Conclusion. State your case as briefly and rapidly as possible, present the evidence for this case in the body of your essay, then sum up and try to ‘lift’ the argument to a higher level in your conclusion. Your final plan should be something like a list of six to ten major points of argument. Each one of these points will be expanded to a paragraph of around 100-200 words minimum in length (never one sentence! ). Relevance At all stages of essay planning, and even when writing the essay, you should keep the question in mind.
Keep asking yourself ‘Is this evidence directly relevant to the topic I have been asked to discuss? ‘ If in doubt, be prepared to scrap plans and formulate new ones – which is much easier than scrapping finished essays. At all times aim for clarity and logic in your argument From: http://www. clpd. bbk. ac. uk/students/essayplanning 13 Sample Essay Plan 1 Critically examine the view that voting behaviour in the United Kingdom during the last thirty years has been increasingly influenced by factors other than social class. 1. Introduction You first need to identify the view that is being questioned.
This is the theory of dealignment, which claims that the class–party relationship has broken down. This view, and the question itself, assumes that voting behaviour more than thirty years ago was influenced mainly by social class. You may want to question this assumption. You will need, therefore, to take a historical approach to the question, looking at trends over time. You should say that you will look at the traditional view and that you will then consider the case for and against dealignment. 2. The class–party relationship. class– This section will look at the argument that there has been a strong relationship between class and party.
The work of Butler and Stokes was a classic statement of this, showing that working-class voters supported the Labour Party and middle-class voters supported the Conservative Party. Butler and Stokes noted that this relationship was not perfect: there were ‘deviant’ voters who voted in the opposite way. You will get more credit if you can give examples: for example, the manual workers with ‘deferential’ attitudes. They also pointed to the tendency for the elderly and for women to be more Conservative than their class background would suggest. 3.
Dealignment It has been suggested that a process of dealignment has been occurring since at least the 1970s. There are two aspects to this alleged dealignment—partisan dealignment and class dealignment—and you should define each of these. You will gain extra marks if you can show that this is a deep-seated trend and is not unique to Britain. Behind this argument is the claim that ‘issue voting’ is now more important than class commitment. People are seen as making rational choices about which party is most likely to pursue appropriate policies on issues that concern them. Voters are, therefore, more ‘instrumental’.
This also leads, so Heath et al. have argued, to more ‘tactical’ voting and, therefore, to less predictability in elections. 4. The New Right and centre politics Some commentators (for example, Stuart Hall) see the decline of class voting as, in part, a consequence of the rise of ‘authoritarian populism’ during the 1980s. This move to the right undermined Labour support in Britain and saw Labour defeats in 1983, 1987, and 1992. Labour’s response to these changes was to move closer to the centre of the political divide in order to recapture the more instrumental, issueoriented voters.
You could conclude your discussion by saying that New Labour won the election in 1997 because it no longer relied on the declining foundations of its traditional, class-based support. You should make the point that political change cannot be explained in terms of political factors alone. There have been a number of important social and economic changes in Britain, and these have affected the old class allegiances. Factors pointed to have been the rise in the employment of women, the declining manufacturing base, the increasing number of service-sector jobs, the decline in the trade-union movement, and the break-up of old communities.
You could draw on various evidence of these factors and how they have undermined the significance of class. 14 6. Conclusion An examination of the evidence seems to indicate that there has been a change in voting behaviour and that this can usefully be seen as involving a decline in class alignment and a strengthening of factors other than class. You might also like to conclude, however, that class remains an important factor alongside these other factors and that class dealignment is not the same thing as the emergence of a classless society. 15 Sample Sample essay plan 2
Should the government leave house prices to market forces, or actively intervene to prevent a house price crash? Justify your answer. Evaluation might consider some of these questions: What does a house price crash actually mean? What is the case for leaving house prices to market forces? What is the case for some form of intervention? What are the options for intervention? What are the problems with such intervention? Will house prices crash as the question implies – this can and should be challenged in your answer A housing crash / market correction might be exactly what the arket needs after a ten year boom! The case for leaving house prices to market forces? Ultimately house prices are determined by what homebuyers are willing and able to pay for a property and also the number of properties (new and existing) made available for sale Demand is driven by Incomes Unemployment The cost of a mortgage The availability of mortgage finance (including the loans to income multiple) Expectations of future price movements Supply is driven by
Costs of construction Availability of land for housing development and its price Expectations of future price movements The number of properties existing homeowners decide to sell at a given price case The case for leaving it to the market is that Eventually if prices rise too far, demand will fall off and prices will adjust Higher prices will stimulate an increase in new house-building which will help the market reach equilibrium Private sector agents are often better judges of what the market needs than the government There is no certainty that the market will crash – it might experience a slowdown over a number of years The case for government intervention is that The booming market has created an inequitable (unfair) allocation of resources Major problems for housing affordability / impact on mobility of labour A housing crash would create difficulties for the economy and risk causing a collapse in consumer spending / recession Options for intervention: 16 Interest rates not an option – these are set independently by the Bank of England! Changes in stamp duty e. g. ower stamp duty for the lower end of the housing market New schemes to promote part ownership – part rent to increase affordability Relaxation of planning controls to stimulate new house building Increase in investment spending in new social housing to give people more choice of housing types What are the problems with such intervention? Risk of government failure Ineffective policies – government policies might actually do very little given the power of market forces Time lags – it takes a long time for government policies to work, by which time the market might already have started to adjust or a major housing correction might have happened. 17