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  Chapter Five:


  Household Size
  Housing Starts
  Home Ownership
  Machines in the Home
  Automobiles and TVs
  Mobility and Migration



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Home Ownership

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Home ownership and the use of purchase mortgages increased, as did the quality of owned housing.
Home ownership rose substantially from the beginning of the century to the onset of the Great Depression, when the trend was checked by widespread foreclosures, reduced incomes, and the virtual cessation of homebuilding (see upper chart). The decline would have been even greater without the intervention of the federal government, which began to regulate lenders and guarantee residential mortgages that met certain qualifications. 

The upward trends in home ownership and mortgage usage resumed during the economic boom years after World War II, when veterans became eligible for federally guaranteed mortgages on favorable terms. By 1960, more than three in five nonfarm dwellings were owner-occupied, and more than half of them were mortgaged (see lower chart). Home ownership rose more slowly after 1960. 

Because the quality of owned housing greatly exceeded that of rental housing, Americans enjoyed a higher quality of housing when they purchased their homes. Owned units had fewer structural defects than rental units, along with many more useable fireplaces, separate dining rooms, garages, and other amenities. In 1997, for example, 62 percent of owned units but only 35 percent of rental units had a dishwasher, while 60 percent of owned units but only 40 percent of rental units had central air conditioning. 

Seventy percent of white householders owned their homes in 1997, compared with 45 percent of black householders and 43 percent of Hispanic householders. Even greater differences in home ownership were related to family structure: 82 percent of married-couple families owned their homes in 1997, but only 47 percent of female-headed families (no spouse present) did. Home ownership also varied strongly with age: only 18 percent of people under age twenty-five owned their homes, but substantial majorities of adults over age thirty were homeowners.

Chapter 5 chart 3

Source Notes
Source Abbreviations

HS series N 243 and N 305; SA 1988, table 1224; and SA 1999, tables 1215 and 1219. For information on differences between rentals and owned houses and information on racial differences, see SA 1999, tables 1214 and 1215.


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