Homeownership : still the American Dream? Perceptions of homeownership in the post crisis era Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/8w32r901k

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  • "The American Dream" is an expression familiar to all Americans and the realization of the American Dream is tied closely to homeownership (Clinton, 1995). The recent financial crisis, with the housing and financial markets at levels not seen since the Great Depression, has resulted in widespread unemployment, continually dropping home prices, escalating home foreclosures, and tightened lending standards. Significant changes in the home buying behavior of Americans since the start of the crisis are clear but it is not clear if overall perceptions of homeownership have become more negative in the wake of this catastrophe (Joint Center for Housing Studies [JCHS], 2011). Might the marriage of homeownership and the American Dream be a thing of the past? The echo-boomer generation (defined as those born after 1980) comprises the largest group of Americans ever to reach their twenties—peak household formation years. They will play a critical role in the face of American housing in the years to come (JCHS, 2011). The purpose of this study was to investigate whether homeownership remains a goal for members of the echo-boomer generation. The population of interest for this study was college students in the United States who are members of the echo-boomer generation. A chain-referral sampling technique resulted in a non-random sample of 256 participants, ranging in age from 18 to 21. Participants were predominantly white non-Hispanic, single females who rented their residences. Most were undergraduate students representing 35 majors. An on-line questionnaire was used that included both closed and open-ended questions grouped around four primary research questions. (1) Do members of this population view homeownership as a safe investment? Simply put, yes. When asked directly, most participants responded "very safe" or "somewhat safe." Stepwise logistic regression was used to explore the predictor variables for this response. Predictor variables with p<.05 included participants’ expectation of the future direction of housing prices and of the economy, their preferred housing tenure, and whether homeownership was part of their own definition of the American Dream. (2) What is the preferred housing tenure form amongst members of this population? A large majority of participants indicated that they preferred homeownership to renting. Logistic regression analysis suggested strong association between preferred housing tenure and whether the participants viewed homeownership as a safe investment, as well as their belief about which housing tenure form made the most sense for them, and the adequacy of their income. (3) Is Homeownership in the Future Plans of College Student Echo-Boomers? The answer to this question was an emphatic yes. Ninety-three percent of current renters claim future plans to own their homes and 58% of current owners say that they will never rent. Logistic regression (p<.05) found that respondents' current tenure form and tenure preference, as well as their belief in the safety of investment in homeownership were predictors of future housing tenure intentions. (4) Do members of this population view homeownership as part of the "American Dream?" When asked explicitly whether owning a home is part of their own personal American Dream, a large majority of of respondents said yes. Logistic regression analysis found that predictors of this view (p<.05) included expectations of rent prices, age, preferred tenure form, and whether participants saw homeownership as a safe investment. This study was grounded in a social constructionist theoretical framework. Among the social constructions of housing is a deep-seated preference for homeownership as the ideal tenure form. Everyday discourse serves to accentuate the positive aspects of homeownership along with the negative aspects of renting (Gurney,1999). In spite of a deep financial crisis and the heightened role of housing in it, homeownership seems to continue as the preferred housing tenure form among the echo-boom generation. Importantly, homeownership as the embodiment of the American Dream seems to have been unaffected by the crisis.
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  • description.provenance : Approved for entry into archive by Julie Kurtz(julie.kurtz@oregonstate.edu) on 2012-07-18T20:07:47Z (GMT) No. of bitstreams: 1 Micek.pdf: 905350 bytes, checksum: 6bb4af3df8b5a9b160bc6daa38621324 (MD5)

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