Habitat for Humanity’s Burdick has found that rental families often have to move a lot, so the kids are constantly changing school districts, which has a real impact on them.
“They very often feel kind of unstable when they’re moving every other year or — in some cases — maybe more often than that,” he said.
A 2009 study published in The American Journal of Economics and Sociology backs up Burdick’s observations, finding that stable housing has a significant effect on the reading and math performance of kids between the ages of 3 and 12. A different study in 2002 quantified those findings, finding that children in owned homes see 9 percent higher math achievement, 7 percent higher reading achievement, and 1 percent to 3 percent fewer behavioral issues than kids living in rentals.
“Homeownership really brings that residential stability that raises educational attainment,” said Nadia Evangelou, a research economist at the National Association of Realtors who co-authored the group’s report on homeownership’s social benefits in 2016. “That’s the most important thing. It brings very positive outcomes in children.”
The benefits of homeownership extend far into the later stages of education, as well. Both Burdick and Curran pointed out that studies have shown a child raised in an owned home is twice as likely to go to college as a child in a rental situation, and Evangelou noted that children of homeowners are less likely to drop out of school.
Evangelou added that recent research has even found some association between the act of saving money and childhood outcomes. “Those behaviors you form saving to buy a house in order to afford a down payment,” she said. “The behavior of the parents can be transferred to their kids.”
Interestingly, a 2010 study found that homeownership seems to encourage good habits from a parenting standpoint as it much as it does educationally. Homeownership and financial stability, the study suggested, may create opportunities for parents to engage in positive behaviors by reducing financial stress and disengagement from their kids.