restricted access Are Homeowners Better Citizens?: Homeownership and Community Participation in the United States
Abstract

Proponents of homeownership policies often argue that homeowners participate more actively in community life and civic affairs than renters. Although research suggests higher rates of participation among homeowners, the underlying mechanisms driving this relationship are unclear. On one hand, the locally dependent financial investments homeowners make in their communities could lead them to participate as a means of protecting their principal investment. On the other hand, home-ownership could stimulate participation by increasing residential stability, enabling households to overcome the institutional barriers and to develop the social networks that drive community participation. The failure to differentiate between these pathways muddies our understanding of how homeownership matters for community life. Drawing on the November supplement of the Current Population Survey, this article investigates whether homeowners are more likely to vote in local elections, participate in neighborhood groups and join civic associations. A falsification strategy compares these outcomes to a set of placebo measures to address concerns that the findings are driven by selection. The research identifies an independent role for residential stability and locally dependent financial investments in explaining why homeowners participate in their communities.


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