Does Homeownership Affect Child Outcomes?



We study the impact of homeowning on the cognitive and behavioral outcomes of children. Using four waves of a comprehensive national panel data set, we control for many social, demographic and economic variables previously found to influence child outcomes. The data are a panel, allowing us to control for unobserved household– and child–specific factors. We use a treatment effects model to address the issue of possible sample selection bias caused by unobserved variables that influence both the parent’s choice of whether to own or rent and whether to invest in their children. We find that owning a home compared with renting leads to a 13 to 23% higher quality home environment, greater cognitive ability and fewer child behavior problems. For children living in owned homes, math achievement is up to 9% higher, reading achievement is up to 7% higher, and children’s behavioral problems are 1 to 3% lower.