Skip to main content
Housing EA

A comparison of renters and homeowners in recent decades

, , , and


Stephanie Lu

Former Research Assistant - The Hamilton Project

Housing policies over the past several decades have overwhelmingly benefited owners with mortgages instead of renters. In this piece, the authors examine the historical reasons for inequities in the housing market, who rents and who owns, how this has changed over time, and the policies to help renters and owners with mortgages. As a share of total household expenditures, rents have skyrocketed in comparison to mortgage interest payments since the Great Recession. In addition, housing expenditures are a significant burden for the lowest income groups.

Housing EA



The authors would like to thank Kristen Broady, David Dreyer, Kriston McIntosh, Lauren Bauer, Andrew Aurand, and Tracy Hadden Loh for their feedback on this paper. Mitchell Barnes, Moriah Macklin, and Madison Bober provided superior research assistance. We thank Alison Hope for her diligent copy edit, and any errors that remain belong to the authors. Lastly, the authors would like to thank Jeanine Rees for all of her help with the graphic design and layout of this document.

Get daily updates from Brookings