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Should the Stagnant Homeownership Rate be a Source of Concern?

  • Richard K. Green

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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Paper provided by University of Wisconsin Center for Urban Land Economic Research in its series Wisconsin-Madison CULER working papers with number 95-06.

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Date of creation: Apr 1995
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wop:wisule:95-06
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  1. Peter M. Zorn, 1989. "Mobility-Tenure Decisions and Financial Credit: Do Mortgage Qualification Requirements Constrain Homeownership?," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 17(1), pages 1-16.
  2. Follain, James R. & Ling, David C., 1991. "The Federal Tax Subsidy to Housing and the Reduced Value of the Mortgage Interest Deduction," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 44(2), pages 147-68, June.
  3. Karl E. Case & Robert J. Shiller, 1988. "The Efficiency of the Market for Single-Family Homes," NBER Working Papers 2506, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Green, Richard K. & White, Michelle J., 1997. "Measuring the Benefits of Homeowning: Effects on Children," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 441-461, May.
  5. Goodman, John Jr. & Ittner, John B., 1992. "The accuracy of home owners' estimates of house value," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(4), pages 339-357, December.
  6. Peter Linneman & Susan Wachter, 1989. "The Impacts of Borrowing Constraints on Homeownership," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 17(4), pages 389-402.
  7. Goodman, Allen C., 1988. "An econometric model of housing price, permanent income, tenure choice, and housing demand," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 327-353, May.
  8. Mallar, Charles D, 1977. "The Estimation of Simultaneous Probability Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(7), pages 1717-22, October.
  9. Patric H. Hendershott & Joel Slemrod, 1982. "Taxes and the User Cost of Capital for Owner-Occupied Housing," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 10(4), pages 375-393.
  10. Deaton,Angus & Muellbauer,John, 1980. "Economics and Consumer Behavior," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521296762, October.
  11. Donald R. Haurin & Susan M. Wachter & Patric H. Hendershott, 1995. "Wealth Accumulation and Housing Choices of Young Households: An Exploratory Investigation," NBER Working Papers 5070, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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