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Cityscape: Volume 15 Number 2 | Article 20


Mixed Messages on Mixed Incomes

Volume 15 Number 2

Mark D. Shroder
Michelle P. Matuga

Looking Back To Move Forward in Homeownership Research

Sandra J. Newman
C. Scott Holupka
Johns Hopkins University

For those interested in the effects of homeownership on children's well-being, the empirical literature offers good news and bad news. The good news is that the topic has generated a sizable body of serious research by highly respected researchers. The existence of multiple studies examining the same basic question is the coin of the realm in the hard sciences but is all too rare in housing policy research. The bad news is that this research has not produced consistent evidence about whether the effects of homeownership are positive, negative, or nonexistent. Because the studies are not replications, differences in a host of features from sample composition to the approach for addressing selectivity bias could account for discrepant results. Until we begin to take stock of the state of homeownership research and the tedious task of sorting through the sources of these divergent results, we are unlikely to make much progress in understanding whether a “homeownership effect” exists. In this commentary, we start this stocktaking and sorting process. We briefly discuss four topics: addressing selection; specifying models; treating income, race, and ethnicity; and handling residential stability.

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