Homeownership and income in the US

In class recently we touched on the idea of homeownership vs. income in the United States, and some were a little skeptical about the idea that homeowners tend to be wealthier than nonhomeowners in this country. I couldn’t quickly locate the average income of US homeowners vs. nonhomeowners, but you can get some insight on this by perusing Table 17 on this Census site, or this table (a slightly different perspective; based on income quintiles). Note the emphasis in these data on using median and percentiles to summarize income data – that is typical because of the understanding that income data tend to be very skewed so a focus on means alone can be misleading as a measure of central tendency. Here is an interesting article (click on the “one-click download” text to get the article; I’m not sure if you need to be having a campus IP address to get it though) on various types of gaps in homeownership, including cases where studies have controlled for credit scores and still found gaps. Note that though the article came out in 2007 it still already recognized the risks of extensive subprime and predatory lending, etc. – as many sources did – though recognition of the systemic risks of this type of lending clearly did not translate into successful proactive action by agencies and institutions involved.

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