Extended-Family Resources and Racial Inequality in the Transition to Homeownership

Soc Sci Res. 2011 Nov 1;40(6):1534-1546. doi: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2011.07.002.


We use longitudinal data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to examine how access to financial resources in the extended family affects the accumulation of wealth among non-owners and how these resources subsequently affect transitioning into homeownership. Our findings show that economic conditions of the extended family have substantial effects on non-owners' wealth accumulation and likelihood of becoming homeowners, even after adjusting for individual sociodemographic and economic characteristics. We find significant effects of extended-family wealth for both black and white households, but effects of extended-family income insufficiency for blacks only. Consequently, limited access to wealth and greater level of poverty in the extended family hamper blacks' transition to homeownership. Our results show that the level of extended-family wealth necessary for black householders to equalize their likelihood of becoming homeowners with whites is very high. In fact, our findings indicate that white householders embedded in extended families with no net wealth are just as likely to make the transition to ownership as are black householders with affluent extended families. These findings support arguments related to the importance of extended-family resources in processes of residential attainment but also point to important racial differences in not only levels but also consequences of these family resources.