13 Nov 2005

“Buy a Home, and Drag Society Down”

is the title of a chin-stroking meditation in the Sunday New York Times News of the Week in Review section. Home ownership has traditionally been viewed as a good thing all around. But is it, after all… entirely? wonders the Times. Certainly, there are positives, but it’s hard to be sure about the role of home-ownership in some things the Times is not at all keen on:

Owning a home relates to a bunch of other things, too, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that homeownership causes or encourages them. For instance, according to the 1998 study, homeowners are older, richer, more likely to vote Republican, and more than half of them own guns, while only a quarter of renters do.

“There’s a pervasive problem in trying to sort out whether there is something intrinsic about homeownership that causes these externalities or whether the people that become homeowners are the kind of people that generate these externalities,” said James Poterba, an economics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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