November 12, 2004

Counterintuitive Homeownership

While doing some research for a piece on policies to promote homeownership, I came across two old Slate articles arguing that increased homeownership may actually increase unemployment. Counterintuitive, huh? The core argument is that owning a home decreases mobility, which makes it in turn harder to find a job—or at the very least, harder to find the best job for which you are suited.

On the other hand, though, those who study this topic tend to agree that there are real benefits to homeownership, especially with regards to raising children, so I don't want to suggest that everyone should sell their homes and start renting. Still, it's remarkable that the American way of life is implicitly designed to dissuade people from changing jobs—there's the norm of homeownership of course, but also the risk of losing employer-based health and insurance, the lack of any meaningful federal job-training program, etc. And yet things stay vibrant and lively in this $10 trillion-a-year thing we call the economy...
-- Brad Plumer 6:50 PM || ||