October 12, 2008
WHY SHOULD THE RIGHT CARE ABOUT BETTER CITIZENSHIP?:
The Ownership Myth: Homeowners are in fact better citizens, more likely to vote in local elections, studies show. (Robert Shiller, 8/20/08, NEWSWEEK)
The idea of the "ownership society," which links the concepts of good citizenship to property and stock ownership, was used effectively by President Bush during the 2004 presidential campaign. [...]
There is a centuries-old connection in our society between homeownership and citizenship. We've moved from a feudal society, in which those who didn't own land were almost like slaves, to one in which homeownership is linked with class elevation, as well virtuousness and good citizenship. In the New World, Americans have long believed that broad distribution of property makes for a better society. De Tocqueville wrote in "Democracy in America" in 1835 that America "stands alone" in the equality of distribution of property and that "nations are less disposed to make revolutions in proportion as personal property is augmented and distributed amongst them, and as the number of those possessing it increases." Property ownership (and later homeownership) became a kind of national destiny. There have been studies, like the one done by Edward Glaeser at Harvard University and Bruce Sacerdote at Dartmouth, which show that homeowners are in fact better citizens—they are more likely to vote in local elections or know the name of the head of the local school system.
Posted by Orrin Judd at October 12, 2008 7:17 AM