“Correlation is not causation”

I recently came across an advertisement insert in a magazine which was sponsored by the National Association of Realtors. The advertising pamphlet is entitled The Field Guide to the Benefits of Home Ownership. The first page presents some statistics which indicate that “students of home owners score better on academic tests and graduate at a higher rate”. The accompanying text reads: “one of the most important social benefits of home ownership is how it affects children and their academic achievements”.

I hesitate to accept the claim that children do better in school because their parents are home owners. I think it more likely that homeownership is an outcome effect of the same thing that leads to higher educational achievement for these children: a more favorable socioeconomic situation that they find themselves in. Parents with higher levels of education (which also predicts children’s educational achievement) also tend to make higher incomes and thus are more likely to afford to purchase a home.

Same goes for other claims made throughout the advertisement about the link between homeownership and being “more active and connected to their own families”, “happier and healthier than non-owners”, and having children that are “20% less likely to become teenage mothers”.

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