June 24, 2008
Monthly Payments on the American Dream
I want to talk about home ownership!
Paul Krugman is back in top form with a column that reminds me why I’m a Krug-fan in the first place.
It’s about the huge preference that U.S. policy expresses for home ownership vs. renting. Krugman goes through all the micro-scale concerns — including a great comparison that likens buying a house to buying stocks on margin — but then there’s an interesting macro-perspective:
Owning a home also ties workers down. Even in the best of times, the costs and hassle of selling one home and buying another — one estimate put the average cost of a house move at more than $60,000 — tend to make workers reluctant to go where the jobs are.
So at the societal scale, do strong policy incentives for home ownership create, on the whole, a less mobile workforce? I think that’s interesting and worth talking about! On one hand, it’s obviously good to support people as they put down roots and become a more permanent part of a community. On the other hand, it’s 2008, and the economic map of the U.S. is changing fast!
Very curious about any questions, ideas, rants, links, etc. on home ownership out there. (Living in San Francisco, the issue is entirely academic, so my aim is to live vicariously through the snarkmatrix.)