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Housing the New Russia$
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Jane R. Zavisca

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801450372

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801450372.001.0001

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To Owe Is Not to Own

To Owe Is Not to Own

Why Russians Reject Mortgages

(p.175) Chapter 9 To Owe Is Not to Own
Housing the New Russia

Jane R. Zavisca

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines why Russians oppose mortgage subsidies for young families and mortgage loans in general. Low demand for mortgages is striking given high unmet demand for housing. More than half of urban Russians age twenty-one to thirty-five were living with extended family in 2009. This chapter analyzes the lack of consumer demand for mortgages as a critical factor that undermined the emergence of the mortgage market in Russia. It first considers the cultural dimension of the transplant effect by focusing on the culture that proponents of housing markets, American style, tried to transplant. It then discusses Russians' deep aversion to mortgages, which is evident in the primary metaphor that Russians use to describe them: kabala, or “debt bondage.” It also explores the conceptual distinction between ownership and possession, along with the avoidance of mortgages in the context of crisis.

Keywords:   mortgage subsidies, mortgage loans, mortgages, housing, Russia, consumer demand, transplant effect, housing markets, kabala, debt bondage

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