Monday, March 19, 2007

Oswald vs Bush on Homeownership

Over at Slate I learn:
English economist Andrew Oswald has shown that across European countries, and across U.S. states, high levels of home ownership are correlated with high levels of unemployment. More conventional factors such as generous welfare benefits or high levels of unionization don't explain unemployment nearly as well as the tendency to own houses. Renting your home and staying flexible do wonders for your chances of always finding an interesting job to do.

It puts this in a new perspective:
This Administration will constantly strive to promote an ownership society in America. We want more people owning their own home. It is in our national interest that more people own their own home.
That's from President George W. Bush.

Maybe it is time for people to recognize that our tax code discriminates against renters--a policy that has little to recommend it on the basis of either fairness or efficiency. I wonder how much the natural rate of unemployment would fall if we eliminated the mortgage interest deduction.