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Cityscape: Volume 11 Number 2 | Chapter 4


Regulatory Innovation and Affordable Housing

Volume 11 Number 2

Urban Sprawl and the Transition to First-Time Homeownership

Casey J. Dawkins

As with the articles in this issue, this introduction reflects the views of the authors and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

A previous version of this article was presented at the DeVoe L. Moore Center Workshop on State and Local Regulation at Florida State University and the 2005 Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning Conference in Kansas City, Missouri. The construction of the database used in this analysis was funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The data used in this analysis are derived from the Sensitive Data Files of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), obtained under special contractual arrangements designed to protect the anonymity of respondents. These data are not available from the author. Persons interested in obtaining PSID Sensitive Data Files should contact the Institute for Social Research through the Internet at


This article relies on data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics matched to U.S. census data to explain the factors contributing to homeownership transitions for a sample of renters who first left their parents' homes during the years 1978 through 1987. The article employs continuous time duration models to explain first-time homeownership transitions as a function of various individual and household-level variables, along with measures of urban sprawl. The article finds that for the average renter in the sample, first-time homeownership occurs sooner in areas with lower urban densities, increased local government fragmentation, and the presence of a regional urban growth boundary (UGB). The effects of UGB presence and local government fragmentation are largest among suburban low-income households.

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