This project will use three sources of data – the decennial census, the American Housing Survey (AHS), and the American Community Survey (ACS) – to analyze recent trends and differentials in two aspects of housing status: home ownership and housing and neighborhood quality.
Home ownership is widely recognized as a barometer of the U.S. population’s and economy’s well being, and thus has long been integral to policy making. The analysis will examine trends and differentials in home ownership for the 2000-2010 decade, using both decennial census and the 2005 ACS. Not only does 2005 represent the midpoint of the intercensal decade, but it also precedes the recent full collapse of the housing market.
Because this basic analysis may be affected by “compositional shifts” in the population, as cohorts of varying size move through the life cycle, it will be supplemented by a cohort-based analysis of homeownership. Drawing on multiple decennial censuses and ACS estimates for the most recent intercensal period, birth cohorts will be used for the native born, while for the foreign born, birth/year of arrival cohorts will be used. This additional perspective on ownership will allow us to differentiate between the progress made by the average member of a cohort as s/he passes through the housing life cycle, and shifts – improvements or deterioration – across generations.
As more recent cohorts replace those that precede them, their level of (dis)advantage influences that of the entire population. For example, the incoming 2000 cohort benefitted from Clinton housing benefits, especially lower-income blacks. The 2005 cohort did not have these advantages. Thus, cohort analysis provides a more complete view of the progress made in home ownership over time. .
But home ownership is only part of the total picture. “Housing” is a multidimensional concept includes aspects of the housing unit (size, amenities, and quality); features of the surrounding neighborhood, such as social and economic makeup and conditions; and access to critical services such as high-performing schools.
Deterioration in the housing unit – bars on windows, rodents and other vermin – and undesirable conditions and land uses in the immediate neighborhood – boarded-up buildings and vacant lots – can adversely affect households’ current quality of life and health. It also affects the odds of socioeconomic advancement for succeeding generations, suggesting that the persistence of racial/ethnic differentials in housing and neighborhood quality may be a partial explanation for continued patterns of inequality.