This report on tenure and mortgage debt of homes not on farms has a profound significance in the development both of economic life and of economic thought in the United States. The field of inquiry to which it belongs is now designated by the general term "land economics." The term itself is something recent and is an indication of the increasing attention being given to landed property regarded from the economic as distinguished from the legal and technical points of view.
Agriculture has been treated more or less scientifically for years, and the law has had to deal with land as property from early times. It is only recently, however, that we are beginning to treat land in a detailed way from the point of view of economics. We are now discussing the various forms of ownership of land, the size of land holdings, and the economic relations of various persons who have to do with the land. This brings us to the subject of tenancy, indebtedness, the passage from tenancy to ownership, etc.
When we speak about land economics, however, probably three out of four will think that we refer to agricultural land, and most of the serious studies that we have had of tenure relate to land of this kind. It is only recently that we have begun to classify land carefully and to give urban land its proper place among the varieties of land. At the present time more than the majority of the people of the United States live under urban conditions, and this renders the present report especially timely. We know a good deal about agricultural tenancy and the development of tenancy and ownership and more or less about the various sorts of tenancy. We know that in some places tenancy on farms is merely a means of transfer of property from generation to generation. We also know that in some parts of the country the tenants, even if not related, generally become farm owners, tenancy being a means of ascending the agricultural ladder. Very little, however, is known about urban tenancy and the mortgage debts on urban real estate.
It is well that increasing attention is being given to statistical analysis. We must know the facts before we draw conclusions from the facts. Statistical compilations, however, do not