In through the Out Door: Racial Differences in Downward Housing Mobility in America

Gregory Sharp, Pennsylvania State University
Matthew Hall, University of Illinois at Chicago

Recent federal housing policies, reductions in residential segregation, and growth in the black middle class have helped to narrow racial gaps in ownership, yet persistent racial inequalities, combined with the racialized context of the foreclosure crisis, raise important questions about the stability of minority homeowners’ tenure. Substantial work has been devoted to whether racial minorities attain homeownership, but little attention has focused on their ability to sustain ownership. In this paper, we rely on over forty years of longitudinal data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, 1968-2009, to assess the relationship between race and the likelihood of transitioning from homeownership to renting throughout the housing careers of black and white householders. Our results indicate that black homeowners are significantly more likely to experience downward housing transitions than white homeowners. This relationship holds even when family composition, socioeconomic resources, and trigger events (marital instability, employment disruption) are controlled.

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Presented in Session 182: Race Inequality in Wealth