Skip to main content
Log in

Immigrant and Minority Homeownership Experience: Evidence from the 2009 American Housing Survey

  • Original Article
  • Published:
Eastern Economic Journal Aims and scope


Using the 2009 American Housing Survey data and hazard model of homeownership and exit from homeownership, this paper finds that immigrants were worse off during the housing boom of 2000 compared to natives, both in terms of lower first homeownership and higher exit from homeownership. However, naturalized immigrants fared better than the non-naturalized immigrants. Among minorities, blacks had the lowest gain in their first homeownership during the boom and the highest loss from homeownership during the bust and the hazard of exit from homeownership was significantly higher compared to whites if the mortgage was obtained during 2001–2003. Hispanics, on the other hand, did not experience significant increase in homeownership nor did they face a higher exit from homeownership during the recent bust compared to whites. However, Hispanic immigrants were worse off in the recent housing market than Hispanic natives.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. According to Simmons (2001), minorities and immigrants constituted about 40% of the net increase in homeownership between the years 1990 and 2000 in the USA. However, the immigrant–native homeownership gap rose from 12 percentage points in 1980 to almost 20 percentage points in 2000 (Borjas 2002; Myers and Yang 2005) and the white–black and white–Hispanic homeownership gaps in the year 2001 were roughly 26 and 30 percentage points, respectively (Gabriel and Rosenthal 2005). During 1995–2009 homeownership rates for Hispanics (6.7 percentage points) and for blacks (7.5 percentage points) increased more than twice that of whites (3.9 percentage points).

  2. Home ownership enhances US society and neighborhoods by providing neighborhood stability and opportunities for civic involvement (Haurin et al. 2002; McCarthy et al 2001). Homeownership also leads to better integration of minorities in the US neighborhoods and is crucial for immigrant assimilation in any country (e.g., Blanton 1994; Rosenbaum and Friedman 2007).

  3. Wells Fargo settled to pay $175 million in damages on charges that its independent brokers discriminated against black and Hispanic borrowers during the recent housing boom (New York Times July 12, 2012).

  4. AHS unlike other dataset used in the homeownership research not only collects detailed demographic information of the household including their immigrant status and citizenship information but also collects financial data on mortgage as well as the year of the last mortgage.

  5. See, e.g., U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Unequal Burden: Income and Racial

    Disparities in Subprime Lending in America, (


  7. Asians are also a significant category for understanding immigrant and minority homeownership in the USA, but I had to leave out this group from the present analysis due to small sample size.

  8. Most of the recent evidence is from the data collected from the lenders under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, which does not collect information on immigrants.

  9. The Movgrp variable of the AHS records from physical housing unit on how many people in the household have moved in the last 2 years. I restrict the value of the Movgrp variable to 1, thus including the physical unit where the head of the household is the one who has moved recently. The question on previous year move is asked only to the households who have moved and about 20% of current owners and 30% of renters who are recent movers report that their previous move was either in the survey year or the year before. Many also report the same year for both the current move and the previous move. This is very consistent across the AHS 2007 and AHS 2005 surveys too. Hence, I only include household heads whose previous move was 2008 or before and leave out household heads who report the same year for their current as well as their previous moves.

  10. See Coulson (1999), McConnell and Akresh (2010), Mundra and Uwaifo-Oyelere (2018), Mundra and Sharma (2015) to name a few for a discussion of the factors relevant for immigrant and minority homeownership in the USA.

  11. The results from the proportional hazard model are robust for other reference period.

  12. With detail demographic and geographical controls, the selection bias of the group obtaining mortgage during the subprime peak period is reduced.

  13. Similar to the previous findings of Kuebler and Rugh (2013).

  14. There is increasing literature showing that legal status helps in homeownership, Amuedo-Dorantes and Mundra (2012); Mundra and Uwaifo-Oyelere (2018) to name a few.


  • Amuedo-Dorantes, C., and K. Mundra. 2012. Immigrant homeownership and immigrant status: evidence from Spain. Review of International Economic 21(2): 204-218.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Avery R., K. Bevoort, and G. Canner. 2008. The 2007 HMDA Data. Federal Reserve Bank Bulletin, December.

  • Been, V., I. Ellen, and J. Madar. 2007. The high cost of segregation: Exploring racial disparities in high cost lending. Working paper, Furman Center for Real Estate & Urban Policy.

  • Blanton, R. 1994. Houses and households: A comparative study. New York: Plenum Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Bocian, D., K. Ernst, and W. Li. 2008. Race, ethnicity and subprime home loan pricing. Journal of Economics and Business 60: 110–124.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Borjas, G. 1992. Ethnic capital and intergenerational mobility. Quarterly Journal of Economics 107: 123–150.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Borjas, G. 2002. Homeownership in the immigrant population. Journal of Urban Economics 52: 448–476.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Borjas, G. 2006. Making It in America: Social mobility in the immigrant population. The Future of Children 16(2): 55–71.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Coulson, N. 1999. Why are Hispanic- and Asian–American homeownership rates so low? Immigration and other factors. Journal of Urban Economics 45: 209–227.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Courchane, M.S., and P. Zorn. 2004. Subprime borrowers: Mortgage transitions and outcomes. Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics 29: 365–392.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cox, D. R. 1972. Regression Models and Life Table. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series B (Methodological) 34(2): 187–220.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cox, D.R., and D. Oakes. 1984. Analysis of survival data. London: Chapman and Hall.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cross-Pennington, A., and G. Ho. 2010. The termination of subprime hybrid and fixed-rate mortgages. Real Estate Economics 38(3): 399–426.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Demyanyk, Y. 2009. Quick exits of subprime Mortgages. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review, March/April.

  • Demyanyk, Y., and Van O. Hemert. 2011. Understanding the subprime mortgage crisis. Review of Financial Studies 24(6): 1848–1880.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Diaz McConnell, E., and M. Enrico. 2007. Buying into the American Dream? Mexican immigrants, legal status, and homeownership in Los Angeles country. Social Science Quarterly 88(1): 199–221.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Diaz McConnell, E., and R. Akresh. 2010. Housing cost burden and new lawful immigrants in the United States”. Population Research Policy Review 29: 143–171.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Daglish, T. 2009. What motivates a subprime borrower to default?”. Journal of Banking & Finance 33: 681–693.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dymski, G. 2005. Discrimination in the credit and housing markets: Findings and challenges. In The Handbook on Discrimination, ed. William Rodgers. Broadheath: Edward Elgar.

    Google Scholar 

  • Frame, W., and L.J. White. 2005. Fussing and fuming over Fannie and Freddie: How much smoke, how much fire? The Journal of Economic Perspectives 19(2): 159–184.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Freeman, L., and D. Hamilton. 2004. The changing determinants of inter-racial homeownership disparities: New York city in the 1990s. Housing Studies 19(3): 301–324.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Flippen, C. 2001. Residential segregation and minority home ownership. Social Science Research 30: 337–362.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gabriel, S., and S. Rosenthal. 2005. Homeownership in the 1980s and 1990s: aggregate trends and racial gaps. Journal of Urban Economics 57(1): 101–127.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gabriel, S., and S. Rosenthal. 2015. The boom, the bust and the future of homeownership. Real Estate Economics 43(2): 334–374.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gabriel, S., and G. Painter. 2008. Mobility, Residential location and the American Dream: The intra-metropolitan geography of minority homeownership. Real Estate Economics 36(3): 499–531.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Haughwout, A., C. Mayer, and J. Tracy. 2009. Subprime mortgage pricing: The impact of race, ethnicity, and gender on the cost of borrowing. Federal Reserve Bank of New York Staff Reports, no. 368.

  • Haurin, D., D. Robert, and W. Bruce. 2002. The impact of neighborhood home-ownership rates: A review of the theoretical and empirical literature. Journal of Housing Research 13(2): 119–151.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ho, G., and A. Pennington-Cross. 2006. The impact of local predatory lending laws on the flow of subprime credit. Journal of Urban Economics 60: 210–228.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hosmer, D., S. Lemeshow, and S. May. 2008. Applied survival analysis. Hoboken: Wiley Interscience.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Kau, J., K. Donald, L. Constantine, and C. Slawson. 2011. Subprime mortgage default. Journal of Urban Economics 70: 75–87.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kalbfleisch, J., and R. Prentice. 2002. The statistical analysis of failure time data. Hoboken: Wiley.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Kochar R., G. Ana, and D. Daniel. 2009. Through boom and bust: Minorities, immigrants and homewonership. Pew Hispanic Report.

  • Krivo, L., and L. Robert. 2004. Housing and wealth inequality: Racial-ethnic differences in home equity in the United States. Demography 41(3): 585–605.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kuebler, M., and J.S. Rugh. 2013. New evidence on racial and ethnic disparities in homeownership in the United States from 2001 to 2010. Social Science Research 42: 1357–1374.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lax H., L. Michael, R. Paul, and Z. Peter. 2008. Subprime lending an investigation of economic efficiency. Housing Policy Debate, Fannie Mae Foundation.

  • Mayer C., and K. Pence. 2008. Subprime mortgages: What, where and to whom? NBER Working Paper, June 2008.

  • Mayer, C., K. Pence, and S. Sherlur. 2009. The rise of mortgage defaults. Journal of Economic perspectives 23(1): 27–50.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McCarthy, G., V. Shannon, and W. Rohe. 2001. The economic benefits and costs of homeownership, Research Institute for Housing America, Working Paper No. 00-02, Washington, DC.

  • Mundra K. and R. Oyelere-Uwaifo 2018. Determinants of Homeownership among Immigrants: Changes during the Great Recession and Beyond. International Migration Review 52(3), Online Fall 2018.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mundra, K., and A. Sharma. 2015. Housing adequacy gap for minorities and immigrants in the US Evidence from the 2009 American Housing Survey. Journal of Housing Research 24(1): 55–72.

    Google Scholar 

  • Myers, D., and L. Liu. 2005. The emerging dominance of immigrants in the US housing market 1970–2000”. Urban Policy and Research 23(3): 347–365.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nothaft, F., and V. Perry. 2002. Do mortgage rates vary by neighborhood? Implications for loan pricing and redlining. Journal of Housing Economics 11: 244–265.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Painter, G., G. Stuart, and M. Dowell. 2001. Race, immigrant status, and housing tenure choice. Journal of Urban Economics 49: 150–167.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Renaurt, E. 2004. An overview of the predatory mortgage lending process. Housing Policy Debate, Fannie Mae Foundation.

  • Rosenbaum, E., and S. Friedman. 2007. The housing divide: How generations of immigrants fare in New York’s housing market. New York: NYU Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Simmons, P. 2001. Changes in minority homeownership during the 1990s, 07. Note: Fannie Mae Foundation Census.

    Google Scholar 

  • Turner, T., and M. Smith. 2009. Exits from homeownership: The effects of race, ethnicity, and income. Journal of Regional Science 49(1): 1–32.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wyle, E., C. Thomas, D. Hammel, S. Holloway, and M. Hudson. 2001. Low- to moderate-income lending in context: progress report on the neighborhood impacts of homeownership. Housing Policy Debate 21(1): 87–127.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zhou, M. 1997. Segmented assimilation: Issues, controversies, and recent research on second generation. International Migration Review 31: 825–858.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


Helpful comments were received from participants at the Southern Economic Association and Population Association of America meetings. My special thanks to David A. Vandenbroucke of the HUD for answering my queries on American Housing Survey.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kusum Mundra.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.



See Tables 9, 10, and 11.

Table 9 Variables and definitionsa
Table 10 Variable means and standard deviation for whites, Hispanics, and blacks
Table 11 Variable means and standard deviation for the whole sample, natives, and immigrants

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Mundra, K. Immigrant and Minority Homeownership Experience: Evidence from the 2009 American Housing Survey. Eastern Econ J 46, 53–81 (2020).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


JEL Classification