Fewer Americans are getting to own their homes these days as households resemble less and less the traditional family image, the Census Bureau said.
In a report last week, the bureau said 63.9 percent of households across the nation owned their homes in 1989, down from 65.6 percent in 1980.
The report, "Homeownership Trends in the 1980s," said a major factor in the decline was a drop in ownership rates for non-married couple families during the decade.
Homeownership by families headed by an adult without a spouse present fell from 49.6 percent in 1982 to 46.5 percent in 1989. And that drop occurred for both sexes. Homeownership by families headed by men without a wife present fell from 59.3 percent to 55.7 percent. Homeownership by families headed by a woman with no husband dropped from 47.1 percent to 44.1 percent.
A second important change was the rapid growth of non-family households during the 1980s compared with families, according to demographer Robert R. Callis.
Between 1980 and 1989 non-family households increased 27.2 percent nationwide to 27 million, while family households climbed just 10.6 percent to 66 million.
Families are much more likely to own their own home than are non-family households, which often consist of only a single person. Thus, even though families still are the larger group, the faster growth of non-family households reduces the overall share of homeowners.
Callis said there were other reasons for the decline, including the decision by many young people to stay single while pursuing education or careers. Delaying marriage often means postponing home buying.
The Northeast, a region of stable population, was the only region to show an increase in the homeownership rate in the 1980s, Callis noted. It rose from 60.8 percent to 62 percent of households.
Homeownership fell from 69.8 percent to 67.7 percent in the Midwest, dipped from 68.7 percent to 65.9 percent in the South and fell from 60 percent to 57.8 percent in the West.