Do Expensive Homes Make for Wealthy Kids?

Publication: U.S.News & World Report

Author: Danielle Kurtzleben


12/16/2011 - It seems like common sense: Children from wealthier families tend to do better, while children from poorer families have a tougher time climbing the ladder. Today comes one piece of evidence showing exactly how precarious that ladder climb can be for families of modest means.

A new study from the Pew Charitable Trusts' Economic Mobility Project shows a correlation between the housing boom and education gains for students from low- and middle-income families. For prospective students from families making less than $70,000 per year, an increase in housing value immediately prior to college might mean more educational success. For every $10,000 gain in such a family's home equity, the likelihood of enrolling in college increased by 6 percent. In addition, the housing boom made these students 24 percent more likely to choose their states' four-year public flagship schools and 17 percent less likely to choose community colleges, and also 9 percent more likely to graduate from college.

At a time when ideas of inequality and what it takes to achieve the American dream permeate the national conversation in the U.S., the study suggests the extent to which even a modest change in fortunes can change the course of a student's education.

"To me the biggest takeaway from this report is the impact that family wealth does have on postsecondary college decisions," says Erin Currier, manager of the Economic Mobility Project.

In contrast to the low- and middle-income students represented in the study, Currier says, there was no significant correlation between home value and college attendance for families earning $70,000 or more.

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Read the full article, Do Expensive Homes Make for Wealthy Kids?, on the U.S.News & World Report Web site.

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