In interpreting the statistics presented in this report, one general consideration must be kept in mind. It is impossible to ascribe any general causes for the changes which have taken place in the ownership, value, and indebtedness of homes not on farms during the past 30 years. The situation in each particular State or city must be carefully analyzed before it is possible to determine the causes which underlie the changes.
Study of the facts with regard to various communities will show that different forces may operate to bring about the same result, while, again, what appears to be the same force operating under different conditions causes different, if not opposite, results. A large recent increase in the population of a city might, for example, be the cause of a decrease in the proportion of owned homes to the total number of homes. Especially would this be the case if the growth in population has been caused by such temporary industrial conditions that permanent residence was not assured.
A rapid growth in population might, however, under different circumstances, be the cause of an increase in the proportion of owned homes, as, for example, in Youngstown and Canton, Ohio, Seattle, Wash., and Dallas, Tex., during the last decade.
In comparing the 1890 and 1920 statistics on home ownership and indebtedness not only must the population changes during that period be considered, but the recency of the change as well. The population of Lincoln, Nebr., for example, decreased slightly in the period 1890-1920, but increased very rapidly in the 10-year period 1910-1920. Between the years 1890 and 1910 this city lost more than 11, 000 inhabitants, but regained almost the entire loss in the last 10-year period. All of the facts of population changes must be considered when analyzing the statistics of home ownership and indebtedness.
The absolute size of the city as well as the relative changes in population must be considered. Forces which increase home ownership in a city of medium size may operate to decrease home ownership in a very large city. A rapid increase in population might mean increasing home ownership in a medium-sized city, as pointed out above, while in a large city rapidly increasing numbers might cause an increase in the proportion of apartment houses and flats, thus reducing the percentage of home ownership.