For Whom Are We Building the American Dream? The Role of Subsidies in the Economics of Housing


Leaders from across the political spectrum articulate the virtues of homeownership. As expressed in the above quotations, both Republican and Democratic presidents emphasize that homeownership is part of the American dream. Besides the direct benefits accruing to a family owning its own house, proponents stress that higher rates of homeownership boost civic activity, reduce crime, and create communities more conducive to the cognitive and non-cognitive development of children.

Unsurprisingly, bipartisan consensus has produced public policies with the express purpose of increasing homeownership. But are these policies subsidizing the building of the American dream for more people, or are they bankrolling bigger dream houses for a few?

Updated/Published March 31, 2015