Edited by Edward N. Wolff
Chapter 7: Race, Home Ownership, and Family Structure in Twentieth-century America
7. Race, home ownership, and family structure in twentieth-century America William J. Collins and Robert A. Margo* INTRODUCTION More than 35 years ago, the Moynihan Report (or The Negro Family: The Case for National Action) ignited a ﬁrestorm of controversy regarding allegedly detrimental changes in the structure of American families, and in particular, regarding the social implications of the rise in female-headed households among African Americans (US Department of Labor 1965). Since then, the rate of female headship and the proportion of children raised in female-headed households, has risen for both whites and blacks. In previous work, we have undertaken a series of investigations of the historical evolution of racial gaps in homeownership rates and in the value of owner-occupied housing based on samples of male household heads (Collins and Margo 2001, 2003). Concerned that the exclusion of femaleheaded households might have aﬀected our interpretation of long-run racial change in housing outcomes, we have extended our analysis to consider the inﬂuence of changing household composition on housing market outcomes for household heads and also, importantly, for young children. Although labor economists and economic historians have devoted substantial eﬀort to measuring and understanding the evolution of racial diﬀerences in income (Smith and Welch 1989; Donohue and Heckman 1991), the historical development of racial gaps in other economic outcomes has been studied far less intensively. This relative neglect is unfortunate because income is only one of several ways to gauge economic well-being. The underlying premise of this chapter...
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