The Effects of Homeownership on Children's Outcomes: Real Effects or Self-Selection?



This article examines whether there is a “homeownership effect” for lower-income racial and ethnic groups who have been the target of public policies to expand homeownership. We use two different methods to account for selection, statistical matching and instrumental variable analysis; test direct and indirect (mediator) effects of homeownership on children's cognitive achievement, behavior problems and health using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and its Child Development Supplement; and replicate the main effects tests using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. We find little evidence of beneficial homeownership effects and suggest that previous analyses may have mistaken selection differences for the effect of homeownership itself.