GenX’s fear of low income keeps them from buying homes

A study from an economist at the University of Iowa found that members of Generation X (born in the 1960s and ’70s) are worried about income and were slow to marry — two things that created a low home-ownership rate that has lasted for decades.

The paper, “Why Has Home Ownership Fallen Among the Young?” by associate economics professor Martin Gervais of the Tippie College of Business and Jonas Fisher of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago was published in the International Economic Review.

It found that home ownership rates have been decreasing steadily since 1980 among GenXers — Americans who are today between 25 and 44. In 2007, for example, while the housing market was still near its peak, only about 57 percent of that group owned their own homes.

In contrast, overall home ownership rates increased since then (especially during the boom that began in 2001).

Why the low rate? According to the Newswise story on the study,

Part of the reason for the drop is that home ownership is strongly tied to marriage, and Generation X is delaying marriage until they’re older, or skipping it entirely. Marriage rates dropped 15 percent among young people between 1980 and 2000, so Gervais said it’s no surprise that home ownership would also drop during that time.

But Gervais points out that homeownership dropped even among young married people, too, so delayed marriage can explain only part of the decline. The rest, he said, is likely due to economic insecurity, particularly when it comes to young peoples’ salaries.

Click here to read the whole piece.

Click here to read a preliminary version of the study. (The current version is behind a paywall.)

About Andrew Kantor

Andrew is VAR's editor and information manager, and -- lessee now -- a former reporter for the Roanoke Times, former technology columnist for USA Today, and a former magazine editor for a bunch of places. He hails from New York with stops in Connecticut, New Jersey, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Roanoke.
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