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By various measures, women’s economic power has increased dramatically over the past few decades. The participation rate of women in the labor market increased considerably in the post-war period: only around one in three women was working or looking for work at the end of the 1940s, compared to three in five today. Educational attainment has also increased, with the percentage of working women with a four-year degree having almost quadrupled since 1970. And factors like these have also contributed to a growth in women’s earnings. While women still only earn around 80% of what men earn on average, the gender pay gap has narrowed over time.
Together, improving women’s economic conditions have enabled more women to pursue one of the most important purchases many people will make in life: a home. According to data from the National Association of Realtors, the homeownership rate for women was around 61.2% in 2019, up from 50.9% in 1990. And this trend is further contributing to women’s economic progress, because home ownership is a key strategy for building wealth.
By some measures, however, women are still underrepresented among homeowners. Of all mortgage applicants, only 21.4% are from single women against 31.4% from single men, according to Residential Mortgage Disclosure Act The data. While nearly half of home purchase loans come from joint applicants (39.3%) or applicants for whom gender data is not available (7.9%), this could include women, the data suggests that homeownership remains more common among men.