Enabling Housing Cooperatives: Policy Lessons from Sweden, India and the United States


Housing cooperatives became active in urban areas in Sweden, India and the United States during the interwar period. Yet, after the second world war, while housing cooperatives grew phenomenally nationwide in Sweden and India, they did not do so in the United States. This article makes a comparative institutional analysis of the evolution of housing cooperatives in these three countries. The analysis reveals that housing cooperatives’ relationship with the state and the consequent support structures explain the divergent evolution. Although the relationships between cooperatives and the state evolved over time, they can be characterized as embedded autonomy, overembeddedness and disembeddedness in Sweden, India and the United States respectively. Whereas the consequent support structures for housing cooperatives became well developed in Sweden and India, such structures have been weak in the United States. The article highlights the need for embedded autonomy and the need for supportive structures to enable the growth of housing cooperatives.