The Housing Wealth of the Aged
NBER Working Paper No. 4115
This paper examines the degree to which the elderly reduce homeownership as they age, and the factors which influence this process. We find that average levels of homeownership decline significantly with age, even when cohort effects are taken into consideration, and that the amount of housing held by people near death is quite low compared to what is seen in cross sections. We estimate that 42% of households will leave behind a house when the last member dies. We also find that the degree to which households reduce homeownership between age 65 and death does not differ greatly between the upper and lower income halves of our sample; that people who do not have children reduce their homeownership more slowly than those who do; that increases in house prices in a state make it more likely that the elderly in that state reduce their home equity; and that the value of houses sold by elderly people tends not remain in their portfolios after the house is sold.