Are homeowners better people?
One of the reasons for subsidizing homeownership is the widely held belief that homeowners are good citizens. Ten years ago, Denise DiPasquale and I wrote a paper investigating the links between ownership and civic behavior. Controlling for income, education, age and other variables, we found that homeowners were 16 percent more likely to vote in local elections, 11 percent more likely to know the name of their member of Congress and 10 percent more likely to say that they have recently worked to help “solve local problems.”
But we also found that almost one-half of the effect of homeownership disappeared when we controlled for the time that the person had lived in the home. Owners are typically much less mobile then renters, and people who stay put are more likely to become civically engaged.
That's economist Ed Glaeser, who notes that the expanded homeowner's tax credit does something very peculiar: encourages current homeowners to swap one home for another, which has no salutary effect on behavior, and does not take existing housing stock off the market. Why are we doing this again?
Photo credit: AP Photo/Carlos Osorio.
November 10, 2009; 9:31 AM ET
Categories: Economic Policy , Housing Crisis
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