The Duration and Tenure of Residence, 1996 to 2009

August 2010
Peter Mateyka and Matthew Marlay


This paper updates and expands a series of Census Bureau reports on the homeownership status of a housing unit (tenure) and the length of time that people stay in one place (residential duration) first reported using 1993 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) panel data, and more recently with 2004 SIPP panel data. Tenure and residential duration patterns have important implications for the stability and quality of life of neighborhoods and communities and are therefore of interest to a variety of data users.

In the last two decades, the U.S. housing market has experienced both prosperity and decline. Homeownership in the U.S. soared during the late 1990s through 2004, and then declined thereafter according to a recent report using data from the Housing Vacancy Survey. The expansion of homeownership during this time was disproportionately led by minorities and lower income individuals who had previously been unable to own homes, suggesting that the social demographic characteristics of homeowners may be changing. How trends in duration of residence changed during this period is less clear. Given the overall changes in homeownership, it seems probable that duration patterns might have shifted for some social and demographic groups in the U.S.

The purpose of this report is to see how tenure of residence and residential duration patterns for individuals have changed across the 1996, 2001, 2004, and 2008 Migration History Topical Modules of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). We begin by replicating analyses from the 1996 and 2004 reports using the 2008 Panel. We do this primarily by looking at bivariate relationships between social demographic characteristics and three dependent variables: (1) tenure, (2) duration of residence, and (3) transitions in tenure from previous to current residence. Second, we compare changes in the relationship between social demographic characteristics and duration, tenure and tenure change of individuals across panels using data from the 1996, 2001, 2004, and 2008 SIPP surveys.