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Housing and Well-Being Across the Life Span

November 15, 2013 10:20 AM

By Monete Johnson, Rutgers University

Irwin Garfinkel, Columbia University, chaired the Friday session entitled Housing and Well Being Across the Life Span. The panel consisted of three presenters who presented a mixture of research designs to assess the effects housing may have throughout a person’s life span and how policy should be informed by these findings.

First, Danya E. Keene, University of Pennsylvania, explained the findings from her paper, Fragile Health and Fragile Wealth: Mortgage Strain Among African American Homeowner. Keene conducted 30 in-depth interviews with working class African-Americans who were at-risk of losing their homes. What emerged was a narrative of the dual interaction between health and wealth among people of all ages. Keene explained that the mortgage crises goes beyond the mainstream narrative of lenders and borrows to tell a greater story of racial inequalities and structural discrimination. 

Housing Tenure, Stability and Children’s Outcomes, waspresented by panel organizer Marah A. Curtis, University of Wisconsin–Madison.  Using longitudinal data, Curtis examined the effect stable housing tenure may have on child outcomes in achievement and behavior.  Some of the preliminary results showed that there are statistically significant decreases in child outcomes for those who move, even from renting to owning housing, which is often thought to be a positive change. Understanding the effects of stability should inform how housing policies should be structured in order to support child development.    

Jason Houle, Dartmouth College, examined the effects growing student loan debt may have on the willingness to take on a mortgage inStudent Loan Debt and Home Buying: Are Student Loans Replacing Home Mortgages Among Young Adults?  There has been some concern that young adults are forgoing taking on a mortgage because of their increasingly heavy student loan debt. Using longitudinal data, the association of student loan debt with the probability of owning a home in the next ten year period was examined. The results have a significant impact on future wealth accumulation and the cost of raising post-secondary tuition.

The discussants, Lisa Schottenfeld, Mathematica Policy Research, and Jay Bainbridge, Marist College, led a conversation that focused on some of the overall themes.  They urged the audience to think about how some of these seemingly small marginal findings can lead to large future effects.

 

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