Improved educational performance, higher civic participation, lower crime rates, and improved health remain the biggest social benefits linked to homeownership, according to a new research paper by NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun and research economist Nadia Evangelou, which appears in The Journal of the Center for Real Estate Studies. Some findings from the latest research cited in the paper include:
Health. Children of homeowners tend to be happier and healthier than children of nonowners, even after factoring in income and education levels. More recently, studies have found the wealth-building effect of homeownership and the sense of control it often brings in a stable housing market can positively affect homeowners’ mental and physical health. On the other hand, some studies suggest that areas where housing distress is high tend to see greater rates of mental health and stress-related health diagnoses among residents.
Crime. Research has confirmed homeowners have a lower instance of involvement in crime than nonowners. Also, neighborhoods with stable housing options—regardless of ownership structure—are more likely to have lower crime rates. Some studies have found, however, that foreclosure levels do influence burglary and violent crime rates.
Education. Researchers have found homeowners tend to accrue more wealth and save more money—such financial practices are associated with lower rates of homeowners’ children dropping out of school.
Civic engagement. Homeownership and residential stability continues to be linked with an increased likelihood of electoral participation. Homeowners remain more likely to participate in local elections and civic groups than renters, the paper states.
“Owning a home embodies the promise of individual autonomy and is the aspiration of most American households,” the researchers note. “Homeownership allows households to accumulate wealth and social status, and is the basis for a number of positive social, economic, family, and civic outcomes.”