American Values: Home Ownership

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Middle class home in Massachusetts

Today, we continue our week-long series on American values with an examination of land and home ownership. The desire to own land — dating back to the notion of “Manifest Destiny,” as newly-minted Americans spread west across the continent — has always been considered a fundamental American value. How has our government and culture reinforced this value? And is it still as important to our identity as Americans as it was in the days when our motto was “Go West, Young Man”?

Beth Kobliner, Takeaway contributor and appointee to the President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability, shares history and hard numbers to help us better understand the American value of home ownership.

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer

Contributors:

Beth Kobliner

Comments [3]

Ed Furlong from Evergreen, CO

The value we place in home ownership likely derives from the Jeffersonian idea of the small family farm/freeholder as the basis for a strong democracy, coupled with the immigrant experience of being landless and living (and dying) at the whim of landowners. We are no longer a nation of small farmers, but our homes, and perhaps more importantly the land they sit upon, undergird the national self image that has defined us historically. Land as a speculative commodity has always been with us, but I don't think we care to define ourselves as a nation of land speculators.

Dec. 15 2010 10:40 AM
Jeff Madsen from Seattle

I didn't hear you mention one of the more valuable aspects of home ownership - owning a home while you are retired. People who are still paying rent in their later years face a significant cost when they can least afford it.

Dec. 15 2010 10:05 AM
jeanne kohlhaas from st. paul mn

I think home ownership is less the American dream than the American obligation. It seems that one HAS to own, (or is made to feel that way) that renting is temporary and 'throwing away money'. I've owned once, regretted it almost immediately, lost money on the sale, and am now happily a non owner. It's all about priorities; mine are flexibilty, mobility and having disposable income.

Dec. 15 2010 08:40 AM

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