Language, Agglomeration and Hispanic Homeownership
Donald R. Haurin
Stuart S. Rosenthal
As of the fourth quarter of 2007, 74.9% of white non-Hispanic families but only 48.5% of Hispanic families owned homes. We argue that low rates of homeownership in Hispanic communities create a self-reinforcing mechanism that contributes to this large disparity. In part, this occurs because proximity to other homeowners belonging to a family's social network improves access to information about how to become a homeowner. Role model effects may also be relevant. We investigate these issues using household-level data on out-of-state movers from the 2000 Decennial Census. Three especially important results are obtained. First, proximity to Hispanic homeowners in the 1995 place of residence increases the propensity of a Hispanic family to own a home in 2000. Second, that effect is especially strong with respect to proximity to weak English-speaking Hispanic homeowners. Third, these patterns hold regardless of the Hispanic family's own ability to speak English. From a policy perspective, these results suggest that local programs designed to promote homeownership among weak English-speaking Hispanic families likely increase Hispanic homeownership beyond just the immediate program participants. Copyright (c) 2009 American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association.
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