Housing Largest Component of Wealth Creation for Single Women

March 14, 2023

To help celebrate Women’s History Month, First American economist Ksenia Potapov wrote a blog analyzing the progress women have made in achieving homeownership.

The number of single, female-headed households—including widowed, separated or divorced—has increased by 1.4 million since 2019.

According to analysis of anonymized household-level survey data, the homeownership rate among single, female-headed households surpassed 52% in 2022, recovering from a post-Great Recession low point of 50% in 2016. Single women’s homeownership rate outpaced that of single men by approximately two percentage points.

“There is good reason to celebrate this rebound, as housing wealth is a primary driver of wealth creation in the United States,” Potapov wrote.

According to the 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances, homeowners had 40 times the household wealth of a renter—the majority of which came from their home. Between 2016 and 2019, housing wealth was the single biggest contributor to the increase in net worth across all income groups, a period during which annual house price appreciation averaged 5.5 percent.

Potapov noted that for single women, housing has always made up a large share of total assets. Over the last 30 years, the average single woman’s wealth has increased 88% on an inflation-adjusted basis, from just over $142,000 in 1989 to $267,000 in 2019. Additionally, housing has remained the single largest component of their wealth. In the latest available 2019 data, housing made up 49% of total assets for the average single, female-headed household, up from 44% three years prior. Housing has likely generated further wealth gains for single women since 2019, given that house prices increased over 40 percent between 2020 and 2022, Potapov concluded.

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