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This report explores how serving in the US military or the presence of a large military institution can ease racial and ethnic disparities in homeownership and income. We find that veterans have higher homeownership rates and incomes than the general population, even within racial or ethnic and age groups. Active-duty service members generally have lower homeownership rates but higher incomes. Using a regression analysis, we also find that veteran status and active-duty military status shrink racial and ethnic homeownership and income gaps. We find that although the effects are smaller than the effects of military status, the presence of a large military base further narrows the differences in homeownership and income between racial and ethnic groups.

The Impacts of US Military Service on Homeownership and Income

The gap in the homeownership rate between black and white households is the highest it has been in 50 years. This report examines key variables that explain the black-white homeownership gap and estimates the role that income, education, credit score, and marital status play both nationally and locally in 105 MSAs with large black populations. The researchers determine that roughly 17 percent of the homeownership gap remains unexplained by observed variables and could be caused by differences in parental wealth, information networks or the vestiges of policies and structures that have made it difficult for black households to obtain and benefit from homeownership. The researchers also recommend specific policy actions for officials across federal, state, and local government as well as institutional policy changes.

This report was updated on November 13, 2019. On page vi, we corrected an error to say that the Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville, South Carolina, MSA—not the Dover, Delaware, MSA—had the smallest black-white homeownership gap. And on page 5, in the penultimate sentence of the first paragraph, we changed the units from “percent” to “percentage points.”

Explaining the Black-White Homeownership Gap: A Closer Look at Disparities across Local Markets