The data show an enormous swing in the fortunes of people born between 1965 and 1984, the group defined by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies as Generation X.
Compared with previous generations, Generation X went from the most successful in terms of homeownership rates in 2004 to the least successful by 2015, according to the data, which date to the early 1980s.
The culprit: a historic bull market for housing, fueled in part by easy-to-get mortgages, that encouraged record levels of home buying until the financial system cracked and the housing market collapsed. Earlier generations such as baby boomers, who entered the market before the frenzy of the early 2000s, have fared better.
Wrong place, wrong time? The effects of this could be long lasting:
- Less wealth in the long run since owning a home is one of the biggest investments Americans make.
- What does this mean for retirement, both for the money that could be gained in selling a home and the need for different housing options as people age?
- With the assumptions Americans make about community involvement and homeownership (as compared to renting), does this mean a whole generation is less involved in community life?
- Will economic changes like this affect future decision making both for Generation X and their children who saw what happened?
In other words, we won’t know how important this change is for quite a while.