​​​​Researchers at California State University, San Bernardino's Department of Economics recently published "California Homeownership and Sociocultural Factors," a study on the effects of California homeownership on ​sociocultural factors like education, inequality, health, crime and poverty.

While previous studies on homeownership tend to focus on economics such as the cost of housing, this research looked at the topic from a social justice point of view.

After taking into account income, unemployment and demographics, the researchers determined that when more Californians own homes and overcrowding is reduced there are significant benefits for education, economic opportunity, poverty and crime.

Homeownership needs to be a policy priority for anyone concerned with graduation rates, crime or poverty in the state." – Daniel Macdonald, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics, CSU San Bernardino​

The study links, too, increased homeownership with greater financial security -- little surprise since owning a home is a better investment than renting -- but the researchers also connected homeownership with better parenting and safer neighborhoods. Homeowners have been found to have a deeper stake in their communities than do renters.

Helping Communities Thrive

"For California, these findings mean that homeownership has effects on the quality of communities in terms of things like education, crime and poverty," says Daniel MacDonald, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics at CSU San Bernardino and co-author of the study.

He conducted the study over two months with Yasemin Dildar, Ph.D, also an assistant professor of economics at CSUSB.

The colleagues collected and compared data from each of California's 58 counties, with a focus on San Bernardino, after being commissioned by the Building Industry Association of Southern California, Baldy View Chapter​.

Among other factors analyzed, overcrowding has been negatively linked to children's health and how much schooling they attain. "Reduced overcrowding has been shown to drastically improve children's educational outcomes, because if a child has a space to come home to and do homework and not be worried about moving every year, they are more likely to succeed in school," explains Dr. MacDonald.

The study found, too, that increased homeownership in minority groups has a positive effect on high school graduation rates; this implies that increased homeownership among minorities could improve economic opportunities for these communities.

Because California is not building affordable new homes fast enough to meet the growing demand of the state's population, some residents must rent or are even forced to move out of the state.

The study calls for reforms at the federal, state and local levels to expand the state's housing supply and lower prices to make homeownership feasible for more Californians.

Because the study focuses on a slew of factors like income, unemployment rates and demographics, the researchers believe that "homeownership itself needs to be a policy priority for anyone concerned with graduation rates, crime or poverty in the state," adds MacDonald.

"We think that it is significant that this [research] is coming from the California State University. We are a premier public university system that is devoted to improving the public good." ​