In response to a question on our real estate post of last week, we decided to try to mine the internet for data on the historical homeownership rate before the series we presented in that article started in the mid-1960s. We found them buried in a recently digitized Census Bureau report from the 1970s(!), helpfully indexed and searchable at the University of Minnesota.
We’ve added the data points to our original data set, and you can find the historical data points here. We’ve reproduced the additional data points in the chart and table, and you can find the quarter to quarter homeownership data from the Census Bureau at the St. Louis Fed’s FRED economic indicator database.
Our New Historical Homeownership Rate Data Points, for 1890 through 1970
(Yes, there is a ton of interesting data in that document, beyond the historical homeownership rate… some even back to the 1770s. We will likely revisit this document for some other long run data sets!).
So, the United States has, for better or worse, increased the overall homeownership rate significantly from the turn of the 20th century – in the face of a rapidly increasing population. We’ll follow up again with some of the innovations which lead to this increase – but you’ll have to bring your own suggestions for what the country can do to help increase the number.
Actually, maybe we should first have the argument that a high home-ownership rate is an unalloyed good (one counterexample: the effects of mobility of renters vs. owners on the labor market). Either way, stay tuned!