Non-Married Women and Black Ethnicity: An Analysis of the Likelihood of Homeownership

Article excerpt

Introduction

Research has shown that Blacks, as a group, are disadvantaged when compared with Whites on a host of sociological indicators including on income, education and occupational status (Avery and Rendall 2002; Denton 2001; Feagin and Vera 1995; Keister 2000; Oliver and Shapiro 1995; Shapiro 2004). In general, Blacks have been shown to earn less than their White counterparts, have lower levels of educational attainment and under representation in jobs with relatively high levels of prestige. However, Blacks are not all equally disadvantaged (Bodenhorn 2002; Dodoo 1997; Logan and Deane 2003). For example, many have written about the diversity that exists within the Black population where income is concerned. William Julius Wilson (1978) pioneered much of the contemporary literature on this matter with his work on the declining significance of race. He argued that race was no longer the most important factor in determining the life chances and opportunities for Blacks. Instead, argued Wilson, class position was taking the place of race for Blacks in America. Evidence of the economic polarization of the Black population could be found in the existence of middle-, working- and lower-class Blacks (Horton et al 2000). In some cases such as in the case of Blacks in Queens County, New York, Blacks surpass Whites in terms of median income, especially foreign-born Blacks (Roberts, 2006).

Wilson's seminal work, like many others published before the mid-1990s, focused almost exclusively on measures like income, education and occupation to assess racial differences in overall economic well-being (Oliver and Shapiro 1995). Since that time, careful examinations of racial differences in the types of levels of asset ownership have painted a bleak picture of racial economic inequality in America (Avery and Rendall 2002; Denton 2001; Sykes 2005; Willhelm 2001). Studies have consistently shows that Blacks are more likely than Whites to report that their overall net worth is either zero or negative (Conley 1999; Oliver and Shapiro 1995; Keister 2000). For Blacks that are asset owners, they have consistently reported lower levels of asset ownership when compared with their White asset owners (Denton 2001; Myers and Wolch 1995; Willhelm 2001).

Blacks are not equally disadvantaged, however, when it comes to asset ownership. Black ethnic groups including those with roots in the Caribbean or from Africa have been shown to have higher rates of home ownership and higher housing values than native-born Blacks (Alba and Logan 1992; Logan and Deane 2003). Despite the ethnic diversity that exists within the Black population, relatively few studies explore whether or not ethnicity matters for Black women with respect to homeownership, and even fewer focus on homeownership and non-married Black women. Understanding whether or not ethnicity matters for Blacks, especially for non-married Black women, permits greater understanding as to the declining/on-going significance of race for this population. If ethnicity doesn't matter for Blacks with distinct socioeconomic and sociodemographic profiles than perhaps race is as significant as ever as some have claimed (Bonilla-Silva 2001; Feagin and Vera 1995; Feagin and Sikes 1994; Horton and Sykes 2004; Shapiro 2004). On the other hand, if ethnicity does matter for Blacks perhaps factors other than race account for observed differences on the types and levels of assets owned (Wilson 1978).

The present study examines the following research questions: 1. What factors explain variations in the likelihood of homeownership for non-married Black women? 2. Is ethnicity a significant predictor of homeownership for non-married Black women? 3. Does region or education or occupation matter more for some Black ethnic groups than for others? Using 2000 census based data these research questions are examined.

Non-Married Women on the Rise

The number of non-married women living in the United States has grown over time (Allen 2002). …