Even one arrest can delay a millennial's entry into homeownership, study shows
Getting arrested even once can keep a millennial from buying a home as quickly as peers with no arrest history, according to new research from a Rice University sociologist.
"Homeownership Experiences Following Criminal Justice Contact" appeared in a recent edition of Cityscape, a publication of the Office of Policy Development and Research of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It was authored by Brielle Bryan, an assistant professor of sociology at Rice.
Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, Bryan examined the occurrence of homeownership during early adulthood among a nationally representative sample of older millennials. She wanted to understand how criminal history was tied to different forms of inequality—in this case, stable housing.
Bryan found that millennials who had any form of contact with the criminal justice system were less likely to own a home as quickly and for as long as their peers who had no criminal justice contact, regardless of race, education and socioeconomic status.
"It was surprising the see that even low-level contact with the criminal justice system appears to be detrimental to homeownership prospects," she said.
The effect of arrest was slightly more pronounced among Black people and those from less wealthy families, regardless of race. Bryan said this evidence of race-based differences requires further exploration.
The findings come at a time when the U.S. criminal justice system is bigger than ever, Bryan said, and millennial homeownership low when compared with other generations.
"Criminal justice contact aside, we already know that we see these big disparities in homeownership between Blacks and whites and whites and Hispanics, and this appears to be one mechanism that is making it harder for this particular generation," Bryan said.
Bryan hopes the paper will contribute to the study of the criminal justice system as a driver of racial and socioeconomic inequality, and how the system affects different and unexpected facets of life.