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Should the stagnant homeownership rate be a source of concern?

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  • Green, Richard K.

Abstract

The homeownership rate in the United States was essentially stagnant during the 1980's. This stagnation should be a source of concern if the rate reflects stagnant economic conditions and ownership opportunities, not if it simply reflects changing demographic conditions or preferences. Using a series of affordability measures, we find that homeownership opportunities improved almost everywhere during the 1980's, suggesting that the cause of the stagnant rate was something other than economic conditions. In fact, we find that both demographics and changes in preferences led to an increase in the proportion of households headed by single people; all else being equal, this would tend to push the owner-occupancy rate downward. We also found that while homeownership opportunities improved during the 1980's, the ex ante use cost of owning a home increased almost everywhere, reducing the financial attractiveness of owning a home. The combination of improving affordability conditions and worsening financial appeal had an overall neutral effect on the aggregate ownership rate.
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  • Green, Richard K., 1996. "Should the stagnant homeownership rate be a source of concern?," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3-4), pages 337-368, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:regeco:v:26:y:1996:i:3-4:p:337-368
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    1. Coulson, N. Edward & Dalton, Maurice, 2010. "Temporal and ethnic decompositions of homeownership rates: Synthetic cohorts across five censuses," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 155-166, September.
    2. Matthew Chambers & Carlos Garriga & Don E. Schlagenhauf, 2009. "Accounting For Changes In The Homeownership Rate," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 50(3), pages 677-726, August.
    3. Myers, Dowell & Lee, Hyojung & Simmons, Patrick A., 2020. "Cohort insights into recovery of Millennial homeownership after the Great Recession," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C).
    4. Sheng Guo & William Hardin, 2015. "Financial and Housing Wealth, Expenditures and the Dividend to Ownership," Working Papers 1506, Florida International University, Department of Economics.
    5. Green, Richard K. & Lee, Hyojung, 2016. "Age, demographics, and the demand for housing, revisited," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 86-98.
    6. Green, Richard K. & Vandell, Kerry D., 1999. "Giving households credit: How changes in the U.S. tax code could promote homeownership," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 419-444, July.
    7. Serena Trucchi, 2011. "How credit markets affect homeownership: an explanation based on differences between Italian regions," CeRP Working Papers 122, Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy).
    8. Gary V. Engelhardt & Christopher J. Mayer, 1994. "Gifts, down payments, and housing affordability," Working Papers 94-5, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    9. Sheng Guo & William G. Hardin, 2017. "Financial and Housing Wealth, Expenditures and the Dividend to Ownership," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 54(1), pages 58-96, January.
    10. Arthur Acolin & Richard K. Green, 2015. "Measuring Housing Adequacy in Sao Paulo Metropolitan Region," Working Paper 9387, USC Lusk Center for Real Estate.
    11. Mohsen Amini Khouzani & Davoud Behboudi & Parviz Mohammadzadeh & Mahmoud Shirkosh & Ehsan Rajabi, 2016. "A Consumer and Investment Model of Housing Demand of Iran: Estimation and Policy Implications," Economic Studies journal, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences - Economic Research Institute, issue 2, pages 41-58.
    12. Ron J. Feldman, 2002. "Mortgage rates, homeownership rates, and government-sponsored enterprises," Annual Report, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, vol. 16(1), pages 4-23.
    13. Gary Painter & Christian L. Redfearn, 2001. "The Role of Interest Rates in Influencing Long-Run Homeownership Rates," Working Paper 8629, USC Lusk Center for Real Estate.
    14. Marshall, Maria I. & Marsh, Thomas L., 2007. "Consumer and investment demand for manufactured housing units," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 59-71, March.
    15. Rodriguez, J. & Barrios, J., 2004. "Politica fiscal de vivienda en España y forma de tenencia de la vivienda habitual: una valoracion empirica a nivel provincial," Regional and Sectoral Economic Studies, Euro-American Association of Economic Development, vol. 4(2).
    16. Juan Mora-Sanguinetti, 2012. "Is judicial inefficacy increasing the weight of the house property market in Spain? Evidence at the local level," SERIEs: Journal of the Spanish Economic Association, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 339-365, September.
    17. Engelhardt, Gary V., 2008. "Social security and elderly homeownership," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 280-305, January.
    18. Zhou Yu, 2003. "Housing Tenure Choice of Taiwanese Immigrants: A Different Path to Residential Assimilation," Working Paper 8611, USC Lusk Center for Real Estate.
    19. Ortalo-Magne, Francois & Rady, Sven, 2002. "Tenure choice and the riskiness of non-housing consumption," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 266-279, September.
    20. Lewis M. Segal & Daniel G. Sullivan, 1998. "Trends in homeownership: race, demographics, and income," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, vol. 22(Q II), pages 53-72.

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