Sunday, May 12, 2013

Greater homeownership leads to higher unemployment?

It makes sense... given that those at the periphery of being able to afford housing should potentially be most mobile in their careers. It's also potentially yet another unintended consequence of government policy that encourages homeownership by making it cheaper than it should be (WSJ):

Dartmouth College’s David Blanchflower (best known for being the Bank of England member who first pressed for interest rate cuts after the onset of the financial crisis) and Andrew Oswald of the University of Warwick find that a doubling of the rate of home ownership in any U.S. state is followed in the longer run by more than a doubling of the unemployment rate.

The authors stress that they are not arguing that the owners themselves are disproportionately unemployed. They suggest that lower levels of labor mobility, greater commuting times and fewer new businesses all combine to hurt the labor market.
Related: Declining American mobility an ongoing mystery (Slate via Instapundit)

Update: "Homeownership Reduces Your Chances Of Becoming An Entrepreneur, Report Says" (HuffingtonPost):
The study's authors write that homeowners "typically have to overinvest in housing" at the expense of entrepreneurship. This is particularly true for homeowners with a mortgage.

The study found that homeownership reduces "genuine entrepreneurship" in particular: that is, entrepreneurship that is in professional work or involves hiring other employees. That is an important point to distinguish, since the vast majority of U.S. businesses have no employees, according to the Census. Among those 21 million nonemployer businesses, millions of people have been forced to do odd jobs since they cannot find work.

Many U.S. government policies, including the mortgage tax deduction, create incentives to buy a home. Homeownership advocates argue that the incentives are good for everyone because homeowners are more invested in their communities.

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