Population Research and Policy Review 22: 1–20, 2003.
© 2003 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Income rich and asset poor: A multilevel analysis of racial and
ethnic differences in housing values among baby boomers
LORI LATRICE SYKES
Department of Sociology, State University of New York at Albany
Abstract. Race and ethnicity, as well as cohort status are strong predictors of asset ownership
including home ownership and housing values. Yet, seldom have the two concepts been linked.
Additionally, potentially important determinants such as business income have often times
been excluded from the analyses despite ﬁndings suggesting that business income may be
an important indicator for racial and ethnic minorities who would otherwise be relegated to
employment in low status jobs in the secondary labor market. Using the most recent data from
the Integrated Public Use Microdata Sample, this study examines: (1) How Asian, Black,
Hispanic and white baby boomers compare in terms of housing values; and (2) What role
business income and interest, dividends and rental income have on housing values for Asian,
Black, Hispanic and white baby boomers. Signiﬁcant racial and ethnic differences in housing
values exist, and business income and interest, dividends and rental income are all signiﬁcant
indicators of housing values for all groups.
Researchers agree that home ownership is an important indicator of economic
well being and that home ownership is a good indicator of the extent to which
racial minority groups are or are not socially integrated into mainstream
society (Crowder 2001; Rosenbaum 1994). Researchers disagree however,
about whether or not efforts to promote home ownership among the asset
poor is a worthwhile venture. Many argue that promoting home ownership,
particularly among low-income households, will do little to narrow the black-
white wealth gap (Denton 2001). One implication is that our understanding
of black-white differences in wealth levels and to a lesser extent black-white
differences in the processes associated with wealth accumulation has grown
(Wolff 2001). Nevertheless, there are several key issues that have not been
adequately addressed in previous studies that will be analyzed in the present
study, namely how racial and ethnic groups with membership in the baby
boom cohort differ in terms on housing values. Moreover, few studies have
examined whether or not business income is a signiﬁcant determinant of
home ownership and housing values for various racial and ethnic groups.