Single Men and Women’s Home Ownership and a Dangerous Momentum


So here’s an interesting finding that would be handled in a completely different way if it were reversed.  From an article by Tyler Curtis for the Foundation for Economic Education:

A new report by the online loan marketplace LendingTree has found that single women own far more homes than their male counterparts. The study revealed that in the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas, single women are almost twice as likely to be homeowners as single men. Single women in New Orleans, for example, own 27 percent of all homes compared to only 15 percent for single men. Multiple cities boasted disparities of over 10 percent. Interestingly, there were no cities in which single men outpaced single women. This is a surprising trend, the author noted, “given the average woman in the U.S. only makes 80% of what the average man does.” For those familiar with the economics of gender, however, the results of LendingTree’s report are not surprising in the least.

According to the report, the Providence metropolitan area had the 30th biggest gap, of 8.1%.  Single women own 20.8% of homes while single men own 12.7%.

Curtis proceeds to explain why the nationwide results are not surprising.  According to a study of 2,000 urban communities, “young, unmarried, childless women” make 8% more than men in the same category, reaching up to a 20% gap.  Among “unmarried college-educated [people] between the ages of 40 and 64,” women make an average of 17.5% more than men.

The misleading numbers we always hear about the pay gap going the other way result from what men and women choose to do when they get married and start having children.  Wives turn more toward family and house while the men are more likely to work.

Some of the reason for that choice might be a residue of traditional expectation, although we should also consider that the tradition might have developed in response to natural tendencies and differences between men and women.  However, we should not dismiss another possibility:  If men who make more money are more likely to attract women and to marry, then couples are simply making a rational economic decision by giving those men the role of continuing to collect wealth for the family.

This possibility lends a dark side to the entire subject.  At this point, young women are over-represented in higher education.  When unmarried, they go on to make more money than unmarried men, apparently throughout their entire careers.  If the men who are on the higher-earning side of that spectrum are more likely to marry, that indicates an underclass of men with lower income and discouraging prospects for building families.

If that’s the reality, then we would expect to see what we do in fact see:  An increase in substance abuse and suicide among men who either have no children or have them outside of marriage.  All the while, our society is still moving forward on the momentum of a movement that presents women as the sex in need of additional help and privileges.

  • Joe Smith

    Women persist better in education – so “equalizing” over representation in terms of enrollment won’t help that much. It starts in K-12 where enrollment is fairly equal so I wouldn’t fault higher education when the inputs are not fairly equal.

    Lending standards got tougher after 2008.

    Younger aged women tend to have more debt (due to more college enrollment) but better credit scores (due to better graduation and likely other factors such as lower mortgage default rates).

    Poor urban planning and poor housing policies (rent control/stabilization that give rise to less rentals and/or more conversions to co-op/air bnb, etc.) have raised urban living costs for renters.

    What’s surprising is a mortgage company would be surprised by the findings – fairly consistent with the dynamics of the last decade plus.