Publication Date

October 2014

Author(s)

Mark R. Lindblad, Roberto G. Quercia

Client/Funder

Ford Foundation

A large body of research links homeownership to many benefits, including better mental and physical health, greater educational attainment for children, and higher civic engagement and social involvement.

Yet few studies investigate why. Understanding why homeownership matters can help policymakers and others extend those benefits to renters.

UNC Center for Community Capital researchers Mark R. Lindblad and Roberto G. Quercia studied the mechanisms that underlie homeownership’s benefits and report their findings in “Why is Homeownership Associated with Nonfinancial Benefits?”

They find that homeowners report greater civic engagement due to longer residential stability and better health outcomes due to a greater sense of control over their lives.

Their findings suggest ways these benefits might be extended to renters. Higher levels of civic engagement, for example, might result if renters are offered leases longer than one year. Similarly, health outcomes might be improved by giving tenants greater control in customizing their living environments.

Homeownership opportunities in the United States are likely to be limited for the foreseeable future, particularly for lower-income households, because of constrained mortgage lending post-foreclosure crisis. For this reason, Lindblad and Quercia say, more research on the causes of homeownership’s beneficial effects could help extend those benefits more broadly.