It's been reported time and again during this, Women's History Month: Single women are leading the pack when it comes to the pace of homebuying. But one should not dismiss those studies about the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic is financially injuring women more than men, leading to the new industry buzzword, "she-cession." There also are other barriers facing women pursuing the American Dream, like, for example, a Yale study showed single women purchase homes for 2% more than single men. Here, the Urban Institute's research fellows have just taken a deeper look at the ways the pandemic possibly is further thwarting the progress women have made over the past 30 years.
Over the past 30 years, the marriage rate has declined, and more single women are household heads, said the institute's Laurie Goodman, Jung Hyun Choi, and Jun Zhu. After that, from 1990 to 2019, the share of households headed by single women increased from 17.6 to 22.6%, they reported.
The trend holds across all racial and ethnic groups, they report, with Black households having the highest share of households headed by women (60%). But, the researchers say, there are issues policymakers must address related to the reasons and ways the fallout from COVID-19 is impacting women.
"Women’s gains in homeownership over the past three decades have been notable, particularly because the homeownership rate for men has dropped. These gains have been made possible, in large part, by gains in education relative to men, though the income gap persists," the authors noted. "The pandemic could change the landscape dramatically. Women are facing greater struggles because they are more likely to be working in industries hit harder by COVID-19, like the food and accommodation sectors."
Federal relief efforts, including those outlined in the American Rescue Plan Act, could help provide the necessary stimulus to minimize the number of permanent COVID-related job losses, noted Urban Institute authors, but the gender pay gap is still an issue. They point to years-old studies about potential policy changes, which, researchers say, are relevant now.
Read the Urban Institute report and access links to related studies at Urban.org.