The American Dream and homeownership are sometimes thought of as one and the same. A belief that homeownership is vital to the fabric of a vibrant society has led to government policies that encourage homeownership. This suggests that homeownership and societal well‐being are positively related. However, empirical analysis does not support this positive relationship either within the USA or across countries. This has important policy implications given the research in this special issue that discusses the macro and micro economic consequences of government programs that promote homeownership. Moving forward, we must consider both the private and public benefits of homeownership and also realize that the very concept of what a house is will likely change. This paper aims to discuss these issues.
The analysis examines the relation between the incidence of homeownership and the well‐being (happiness) of a community. The analysis is first performed across the 50 states and then is done on a cross‐section of 26 countries.
The correlation coefficient between home ownership rates and well‐being are negative for both the US and international data. The evidence does not support the belief that homeownership is either necessary or sufficient for societal well‐being.
The paper presents some of the first empirical analysis to examine the relationship between homeownership and societal well‐being. Other studies in this special issue document both public and price costs to owning a home. Taken together, the special issue has important implications for government policies that encourage homeownership.
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