For Whom are We Building the American Dream?

11 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2015

See all articles by James R. Barth

James R. Barth

Auburn University; Milken Institute

Ross Levine

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Moutusi Sau

Milken Institute

Date Written: March 31, 2015


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?

Keywords: Housing Finance, Housing reform, Homeownership

JEL Classification: G21, G39, G28, R31

Suggested Citation

Barth, James R. and Levine, Ross Eric and Sau, Moutusi, For Whom are We Building the American Dream? (March 31, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

James R. Barth

Auburn University ( email )

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Milken Institute ( email )

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Ross Eric Levine

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building, #1900
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Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Moutusi Sau (Contact Author)

Milken Institute ( email )

1101 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, DC District of Columbia 20005
United States


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