Housing and wealth inequality: racial-ethnic differences in home equity in the United States

Demography. 2004 Aug;41(3):585-605. doi: 10.1353/dem.2004.0023.


In our study, we took a first step toward broadening our understanding of the sources of both housing and wealth inequality by studying differences in housing equity among blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and non-Hispanic whites in the United States. Using data from the American Housing Survey, we found substantial and significant gaps in housing equity for blacks and Hispanics (but not for Asians) compared with whites, even after we controlled for a wide range of locational, life-cycle, socioeconomic, family, immigrant, and mortgage characteristics. Furthermore, the payoffs to many factors are notably weaker for minority than for white households. This finding is especially consistent across groups for the effects of age, socioeconomic status, and housing-market value. Blacks and Hispanics also uniformly receive less benefit from mortgage and housing characteristics than do whites. These findings lend credence to the burgeoning stratification perspective on wealth and housing inequality that acknowledges the importance of broader social and institutional processes of racial-ethnic stratification that advantage some groups, whites in this case, over others.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Asian / statistics & numerical data
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data
  • Ethnicity / classification
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Family Characteristics
  • Financing, Personal / statistics & numerical data
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Housing / economics*
  • Housing / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Income / statistics & numerical data
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Ownership / economics*
  • Ownership / statistics & numerical data
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • United States
  • White People / statistics & numerical data