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How Homeownership Has Changed Since the 1960s

While rural areas of the United States have maintained the same approximate population (54 million in 1960 and 57 million in 2020 [1]), urban areas have gained nearly 150 million inhabitants in the last six decades, according to a study [2] by The Zebra [3], a home insurance comparison site. Analysts for The Zebra dove deep into today's most pressing housing matters to understand how they compare to the same issues some 60 years ago.

"We wanted to dig deeper into the ways that housing has affected the lives of Americans both historically and in the present," The Zebra's researchers said. "Using U.S. Census Bureau data [4], we explored how housing has changed for Americans since 1960."

And here are some of the main things The Zebra's analysts discovered:

One common measure of housing affordability is the relationship between the median cost of a home and the median income (price-to-income ratio). The Zebra used Census intel to calculate the price-to-income ratio for Americans in 1960 as well as 2019 and found that in 1960, the median home cost $11,900, while the median income was $5,600, indicating a price-to-income ratio of 2.1. By contrast, in 2019 the median home cost $240,500 with an estimated median income of $68,703, a price-to-income ratio of 3.5.

Black Americans face an even greater challenge when it comes to housing affordability, as Black families earn an average of $29,000 less [5] annually than white families, which would represent a price-to-income ratio of 6.1.

In 1960, 64.4% of white Americans and 38.4% of Black Americans owned homes, a difference of 26 percentage points. In 2020, 75.8% of white Americans and 46.4% of Black Americans owned homes, a difference of 29.4 percentage points.

The authors of the report surmise that 2021 presents its share of obstacles for Americans who hope to achieve and maintain homeownership and those who represent them.

"With growing housing issues related to affordability, foreclosure, eviction, racial disparity and homelessness, the coming years represent a formidable challenge for politicians and community leaders hoping to provide stable lives for Americans," the researchers conclude.