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August 24, 2010


Its no secret that in countries with either a culture that makes this acceptable, like Italy from my understanding, or countries where incomes are low compared to the cost of space... more people live in the same households.

There is no mention of affordability, or any concern for first-time buyers.

This is a point that's widely overlooked -- and not just when it comes to houses. For example, stocks are a good thing to own, too. Yet when stocks get cheaper, we do not celebrate the fact that more people can afford them, do we?

When the price of Coca-Cola (the soft-drink) goes up at the supermarket, we call that "inflation" and consider it a bad thing. When the price of Coca-Cola (the stock) goes up at the NYSE, we call that "growth" and cheer it as a triumph of capitalism. We are a schizophrenic people.


Nothing in those milestones say buying a house is necessary. House ownership today is high compared to historical levels. The last 5 years are an anomoly because the decline is nationwide, but every generation faced the risk of local decline. Do you thin it was easy to buy a house in 1982 with 15 percent interest?

If there is a difference in this generation from others, it is probably that the wealth the parents generated makes them more able to support their 20 somethings, and the 20 somethings don't feel compelled to study something useful that will provide them a living income, since mom and dad will die eventually, leaving their wealth behind.

I think there's another point worth mentioning: Zoning optimized for revenue yield.

My parents did that traditional thing, got married, bought a house, had kids, in that order. The house they bought was 625 square feet!

When the time came for me to follow, (Except the house came first, mom called it "wife bait".) it turned out the zoning laws made a house like my parent's first home illegal! The minimum house size was double that!

Why? Small houses tend to burn down, or something? No, the local government just wanted people to either build houses that would yield a lot of property taxes, or get the heck out of town so somebody else could.

Well, I managed it, because I'd saved a lot, and was handy enough to build a LOT of sweat equity. But I ended up a lot deeper in debt than if I'd built the house I wanted, and that's part of why I lost the house when I got laid off.

Because of zoning laws that deliberately made affordable housing illegal.

Really Jrudkis? Really?

Here's a scary statement for you - I'm 31 and have one of those "useless" degrees - English and Political Science; and I found work as easily as any of my friends with useful degrees, hell, technically, easier than any of my friends who went into anything but IT, since the rest all require master's degrees to do anything but scut work in a lab environment.

Sorry, I'm taking this somewhat personally, but I've got those friends with "useless" degrees around, useless like a law degree, masters in psychology, business, chemistry/physics/engineering (yes he tripled majored), one art degree holder, but his concentration was the ever practical industrial design.

On top of that, of the friends who have jobs, I know a double handful that are crippled by the fact that they have student loans for undergrad and master's (because you need that graduate degree to distinguish yourself in the job market now) who are paying approximately my mortgage a month, cause they had to put themselves through both levels with no help from home.

Frankly, it isn't the cost of homeownership killing the 20 somethings. People have always raised families in apartments and row housing and other less than suburbian ideal - we just forget that thanks to media. It is the cost of education that is killing us, you *have* to have a Bachelors just to enter the race, you *have* to have a Master's to excel and be considered serious.

I think Brett is right. Shocking.

Over the last few decades, the amount of square footage that Americans take up on average has grown. It hasn't grown because people were desperately clamoring for more square footage in their homes. It has grown because invisible zoning has basically mandated that new housing consume lots more space. And the really pernicious aspect is that zoning is invisible: even politically aware people have no idea what their local zoning is or who makes it or how the local zoning board is appointed/elected.

Zoning has had a much bigger impact on the American real estate market than Fannie/Freddie and friends, but blogs like OW will feature lots of posts about Fannie/Freddie but none on zoning. We have literally decided to make cheap housing illegal and then we are surprised when housing becomes expensive!

I'm going to do something unusual, and agree with Brett, that far too many local zoning laws suck. Partly, it's due to being based on out-dated urban planning, plus an excellent example of regulatory capture at the local level, where it's even easier than at the federal level, since almost nobody except the developers and a few activists could probably name their local zoning board. Or even know if it's elected, appointed, or whatever. Lots of the quaint Main Streets of little towns? Totally illegal to build now. Or small houses, as mentioned by Brett.

But the bigger problems are the overall wage stagnation we've had for 30 years, and as DecidedFenceSitter mentioned, student loans. The constant rise in college costs, and the constant cuts in the portions the states pay have gotten us to a point where the average loans for a student who graduates are around $25K. On top of everything else they need to pay for, on a starting salary that hasn't gone up very much at all in real terms in 30 years.

The NYT article, and this critique, both miss a point: 'adults' now lack maturity just as the 'children' do.

We are all becoming irresponsible, incompetent, children.


"But the bigger problems are the overall wage stagnation we've had for 30 years, and as DecidedFenceSitter mentioned, student loans."

Well, yes and no. College loans are a problem, but not that big.

There are a couple of basic premises in this post that are.....interesting.

Thirty five years ago I was a young father with two kids (ok 32 years ago). We lived in apartments in the lower middle class part of town and saved money in hopes that we would be able to buy a house someday, I made 7k a year, 9k with overtime(about 24k today). So did most of my peers at work and others we knew.

After 6 years of saving (and raises to 35k, about 70k today) we scraped together a small down payment and went to look for a house. We found one we could barely afford (90k, 200k today) about 50 miles south of Boston. It was 1000 sq feet and had the bonus of a backyard.

All this to point out, that houses 50 miles south of Boston are just over 200k today and 70k is not that much, especially for a typical two income family today.

So, as the father of 4 kids, between 26 and 31, all of whom have some amount of college loans, I think this is mostly the same angst ridden plaint that you might have heard from me 35 years ago.

Except, and a long way to say it, that the biggest change in the last 35 years seems to me to be the order of things. In my youth buying the house was a long term goal, not a prerequisite to having kids. We knew people who raised whole families and never were able to do more than rent a house. So, either that has changed or our definition of respectable middle class people is much different.

Seven years ago I bought a brand new mini-McMansion. Now that the basement is finished, it has over 3k feet of living space. It's twice the size of my first home, which I seem to miss more and more. All I seem to have gotten from this new home is the ability to accumulate more useless stuff, higher bills and neighbors who appear to care more about their lawns than I think is healthy.

I have since moving created two more humans, and the one I had already created went from newborn to soon-to-be second-grader, so I don't know how sharing a bathroom with them would be working out if we had stayed in the old house. And I do have to admit that the new house does have a lot more cheerful natural light than the old one did. Plus the neighborhood is full of kids and open space to play in. But, still, I'm not feeling like it was worth it.

I still can't quite figure out the "new" house. It doesn't flow the way the old one did. We used to have big parties at my old house, and everything just worked. The kitchen down to the family room (split-level house) into the back porch, to the back yard and the back door of the garage (where the band played!) all made for a fun, easy-to-mix-in environment.

My point, albeit a minor one, is that bigger isn't necessariliy better, even without considering strictly financial concerns, or even the larger environmental ones. It may even be a little bit worse just on a day-to-day basis.

Well, gotta go. I'm refinancing. 4.625%!

"Sociologists traditionally define the 'transition to adulthood' as marked by five milestones: completing school, leaving home ......... "

Wait a minute. "Completing school"? What level of schooling?

Only 27% of Americans have college undergrad degrees (the percentage is 30 to 40% in Europe), a number feather bedded by for-profit diploma mills these days. A mere 9.4% have graduate degrees, among them the sociologists who traditionally define just about everything in our social science blues culture.

These numbers are at or near the high end of their categories for American history, so I'm not sure what "the something useful" is that jrudkis pines for. And I doubt that too many Moms and Dads leave behind any substantial wealth, so I doubt the kids are layabouts because they await their parents' croaking to inherit some dish towels and what's left of the 20 shares of Citicorp stock.

Where is everyone else living? How are they living?

Let's the rest of us turn the tables on the sociologists (and their doctorates) and study THEM for a moment. Are their kids living at home at the moment? Are the good doctors underwater on the mortgage? How's the 401K doing?

The sociologists have a gig. We pay them to tell us how effed up the rest of are - which we are -- for lots of reasons, some cited here.

But are they like the psychiatry profession wherein they prescribe the rest of us anti-anxiety and anti-depression meds and then go home to their miserable families and have nearly the highest incidence of suicide (stockbrokers are pretty high up there too) of any profession.

What does traditionally mean in the sociologist's frame of reference? Tradition certainly doesn't extend very farther back before World War I. Most families "traditionally" lived cheek to jowel, three generations to a blanket, didn't they?

Didn't they inherit the farm? I mean before the "death tax" which so many mature Republicans whine about, fearing Uncle Sam gets first suck off the titty.

Were they immature?

No sireee, Bob. They went out and worked by the sweat of their brow, had nine kids (four of whom grew up to be sociologists and the other five became quants figuring out how to ship their fathers' jobs overseas to cut effing overhead) and then croaked.

All of the cousins became attorneys and ended up commenting at Obsidian Wings (ha ha)

Croaking just in time: traditional and mature

The median age at first marriage in the early 1970s was 21 for women and 23 for men; by 2009 it had climbed to 26 for women and 28 for men."

Of course, 1970 was close to a historic low in American marrying age over the last century or so - it had just started going up, by a few months, from the 1950s-60s trough. Go back to 1910 and the age for guys was ~25 - younger than today, but not enormously so, and that was already down from 1890, when it was ~26.

Compared to back then, though, there is one major change - median age of first marriage for women was 22 in 1890 (going down to ~20 in 1950 - it got back up to 22 in 1980, and just kept going), as opposed to today's 26. And, of course, there's quite a story there . . .

Median Age at First Marriage, 1890–2007: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005061.html

Some disconnected thoughts:

One reason I quit my job (almost a year ago! and still unemployed!*), besides the fact that there was no work, was that it was getting increasingly difficult to face myself in the mirror every morning and play my little part in the development machine of Southern California.

Zoning laws are, it's true, largely driven by a small clique of developers, planners and elected officials. But developers really sweat the market details. They study intensively what they think will sell at the highest profit margin, then get the zoning laws set to allow that product. If people didn't want to live in what they build, they'd build something else. People claim to want to live in walkable neighborhoods (and there's some evidence that housing in those areas has a premium associated with it), but for the most part people snapped up what developers offered.

Note also that building a walkable neighborhood from scratch is hard. There's a huge chicken-and-egg problem. No restaurant wants to go in first, but nobody wants to buy a house where the "downtown" is brand new empty storefronts.

* I'm currently taking college chemistry classes so I can qualify to take the patent prosecutor bar exam. Whether there will be work for a patent prosecutor in early 2011 is a chance I'm taking.

"Put down your life savings for a 20% deposit? Sorry about that. If you were sold an inappropriate "affordability" product like an option-ARM or a neg-am loan, maybe you wound up defaulting."

You may realize this, but by the sentence structure I'm not sure. These are pretty much exclusive problems. If you had one of the fancy loan products you almost certainly did not put down your life savings for a 20% deposit. One of the key features of these loan products was that you avoided putting much, and often any money down.

When these people lost their houses, essentially they went through the psychological trauma of a serious default (which BTW I'm not discounting as a serious issue), adverse credit rating issues, and a few years of what amounted to dramatically overpaying rent instead of actually owning. It is a small silver lining (small indeed) that they very rarely lost their life savings for a deposit, because the crazy loan structures didn't require one.

I have to join the chorus on two issues raised in the comments: zoning and college loans. Both are much bigger deals than commonly talked about. It isn't rare for people to end their schooling with $30-50,000 in loans, and it isn't at all shocking for it to be more in the $150-200,000 range if you go to grad school of some sort. Neither size loan is very amenable to buying a house, starting a family, or choosing work you love rather than purely on price tag.

The price tag of higher education has been going up at crazy rates for years. I'm not *sure* of it, but it feels like the government loans we've been handing out in the past few decades have been allowing schools to raise their prices more than they have actually made college more affordable. In the medium run is it possible for government loans to make a largely positional good more affordable? I don't know, but I suspect that if you don't analyze it with that in mind, as we certainly haven't, you end up making it largely less affordable rather than more.

What Seb said. I know quite a few people that came out in the $150-200,000 range. Myself included.

Perhaps the sociologists need to update their traditional definition for "transition to adulthood."
1) completing school (almost certainly meaning High school). Keep
2) leaving home. Keep
3) becoming financially independent. Keep
4) marrying. Drop
5) having a child. Drop

First off, the last two ought to be combined. Or, at the very least, they should link "having a child" as a subsidiary to "getting married." Having a child without getting married is, IMHO, an indicator of non-adult lack of responsibility.

Second, a large number of people are refraining from getting married straight out of school. Especially for women, the traditional model had them going from financially dependent on their parents to financially dependent on their husbands. And over the last few decades an increasing number of women are establishing their financial independence before getting married. See criteria 3 above. (Do you get the feeling that the sociologists' criteria unconsciously were looking only at male adulthood?)

'In America, respectable middle-class people get married, buy a house, and then have kids. That's the norm, and it's a strong one. A married couple renting is a bit off; renting with kids - well, why don't you just turn them loose on the street to be raised by wolves if you care that little?'

The order of things that I recall is more in agreement with Marty's description of marry, kids, and then home ownership.. More of us in that generation started off renting, not necessarily an apartment.

'The wealth generated by housing in those decades did more than assure the owners a comfortable retirement. It powered the economy, paying for the education of children and grandchildren, keeping the cruise ships and golf courses full and the restaurants humming.'

I think there is some accuracy in this statement. My experience in the real estate business for over forty years leads me to think this is true. When I lived and worked in the D.C. metro area, I could see the developing trend, so I moved into residential rental real estate as rental demand increased and government policies promoted inflation. This is also why I know all rental properties were not apartments. Most young couples with children could not buy, within a reasonable commuting distance, so they chose to rent single family houses. Indeed, I was able to use real estate asset appreciation to pay for college educations for three. But I missed out on the golf and cruises. Maybe that's why I don't feel like I'm suffering now, except in having to watch all the young people who are and who don't seem to have much clue as to how we got here.

As I have commented before, I do think education and the costs of education are major issues in our approach and I don't think the present approach of tax subsidized loans with their defaults and delinquencies will long be supported by taxpayers.

There's a lot to be said on this topic.

Marty: our definition of respectable middle class people is much different

You have to bear in mind, my definition of respectable middle classness comes mostly from observation (necessarily limited) and not much from experience. My own background is not American middle class but English working class or even underclass. Temple Grandin's phrase to describe living as an adult with autism often strikes me as appropriate to the way I have to approach things, as "an anthropologist on Mars".

Of course a decade or so of living an American middle class (ish) life helps there too.

Certainly people have rented with kids and buying a house was never easy. But I don't think it should be easy. I think it should not be incredibly costly and risky, which is a little bit different.

Sebastian: You may realize this, but by the sentence structure I'm not sure. These [loss of down payment/exotic loans] are pretty much exclusive problems.

Yeah, I do. Those were two ways into the market for first-time buyers and in both cases tended to blow up but in different ways. But - I don't have statistics on hand - I think that even those with exotic mortgages often put a significant amount down. The "no documentation nothing down" was the extreme example of exotic loans but I don't think it was quite the norm.

The real difference I see between this period and previous ones is that those who adhered to the norm - saved responsibly and put down a large down payment - were the ones most screwed by the collapse, and that many others who might have been responsible buyers were simply priced out.

I lay a lot of the blame on the exotic products and the increasing leverage available. Regulators should never have let things like neg-am loans onto the market, and should have insisted on much larger down payments - and of course banks should have done the same, but banks are always going to do stupid things that blow up if you don't regulate them.

My main complaint is not that houses are expensive - although that is a problem, and a problem for renters as well as owners - so much as that the people who followed the advice of their elders & betters and bought one in the last ten years got totally screwed in many cases, even more screwed if they were responsible and put down a large down payment; and all the while (many of) said elders & betters were enjoying a mysterious "wealth" that derived from no productive activity.

Again, I don't think houses should be cheap or easy to buy. I think that they should have stable prices and that responsible behavior (saving for a down payment, paying down your mortgage) should have its natural rewards. The housing market in the last 15 years did not resemble that at all, but was a frenzy of leveraged speculation by extremely irresponsible people. To quote Keynes, "When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done."

I agree with jrudkis that homeownership levels were too high. As far as a solution goes, I'd want to reduce the emphasis on homeownership, adjust norms to accept renting more, remove some major distorting subsidies, ban exotic loan products, strictly control HELOCs, and try to have a new norm of a fixed-rate 15 or 20 or 30 year mortgage with a significant down payment. That would keep bubbles under control and make buying a house much safer (not "easier" in the sense of less money down though).

Current post-bubble policy has been exactly the opposite, geared largely to propping up prices. I can get an FHA loan for three-quarters of a million dollars with 3% down. That is not a recipe for stability. I do understand that both banks and many homeowners would be badly hurt by a sharp reversion to normal house prices, but dragging it out as long as possible comes with its own hazards, including the fact that anyone who puts down a significant deposit right now is likely to lose it in slow price declines over the next half-decade or decade.

We took a system of housing that worked well to promote economic and social stability and blew it up, as the kids say, for teh lolz!! I don't think that was a very good idea even if it also paid for a lot of cruises and golf excursions.

And yeah, I think zoning is an issue too. As are things like Prop 13, which really is intergenerational warfare - "Sure, I had a public education funded by level property taxes, but I don't feel like doing that for you. PS please make sure your kids keep sending the Social Security checks thx."

This is at risk of thread-jacking, but it is one of my pet peeves so I have trouble ignoring it. Also, I'm a non-homeowner, so I'm not personally invested in this decision. (Yes you might remember that I was a homeowner, but I have a little micro illustration of the current set of crises in my own life: bought a house with someone near the top of the market, he ended up being laid off from his high paying job for more than two years, was about to lose house, somehow sold the house at a slightly short sale, and moved on). Anyway, Prop 13 had multiple components, not all of it bad.

They were: 2/3 voting for increased taxes, measured property tax increases for sustained ownership.

The 2/3 voting for increased taxes when paired with the 1/2 voting for increased spending, is of course a complete disaster. I'm not sure the argument for 2/3 voting on budgets is ridiculous, but whatever level you put the voting on for taxes you need to have the same voting level for expenditures. That alone is key to a huge portion of California's woes. At the moment we are a medium taxing state and a high spending state.

The property tax issue has to be taken in light of speculative and skyrocketing housing prices. It allowed for a measure increase of a small percentage each year. This is very predictable, and spending authorities should easily be able to plan around it. It isn't very gameable by individuals, at best your spouse can get it without triggering a revaluation (gays get screwed here again). And considering the amount of moving done in California, revaluation events for dwellings are common. When you bought your house, the taxes made sense for the public education funded. You aren't cheating the government by only allowing a 2% increase from that point just because property values on new homes around you have gone up.

The problem with revaluation and property taxes doesn't come from dwellings, it comes from commercial property. Commercial property can survive under one name indefinitely, and can avoid the triggering evaluation of death which individual owners can't avoid. Also, commercial property is much more amenable to the long term lease, so if your corporation doesn't really want the property anymore it can more easily transfer use without transferring title. There are whole corporations in California who only still exist because people didn't want a triggering event on the property taxes; they now exist as a shell to lease property that would normally have been sold (or they sell the corporation holding the property rather than selling the property itself).

If we wanted to alter Prop 13, I would say that the 2/3 tax vote should be matched up to spending (either by raising the spending vote or lowering the taxing vote) and that the property tax limit should only be for personally held dwellings.

[/pet peeve rant]

Also, zoning contributes to the price warfare which can contribute to the tax basis issue for dwellings.

I have a post that deals with California issues coming up. Actually those concerns apply to other states as well, since so many passed similar measures.

Prop 13 for property taxes is definitely worse for commercial properties than for residential, but it's still a problem for residential property even though a lot of people move. The people who don't move and have owned for decades really do get a massive free ride from their neighbors.

Anyway I suggest we get more into this when I post the next thing (which will be a little while, I don't want to stomp on Eric's post).

Stomp away. This blog is supposed to have multiple posts in a day. Feature!

Having a child without getting married is, IMHO, an indicator of non-adult lack of responsibility.

I need to actually work a lot today, so I can't give this the attention I would like to. But I will at least register that I find this statement deeply offensive, a blanket moral judgment about situations and decision-making processes that differ from one person to the next and are none of your business.

I had two kids and got married later. Long, complicated story, and not one I'd tell here even if I had time. But I had my reasons, and they had nothing to do with a failure of adult responsibility.

And only partially aside from that, there is a whole class of people in this country who are being denied the right to marry even though they want to. Are they too failing in their adult responsibilities if they decide to raise children? I don't think so.

And p.s. nothing much would have been lost if I had never gotten married at all. I got married for job reasons, not kid reasons.

"But I will at least register that I find this statement deeply offensive, a blanket moral judgment about situations and decision-making processes that differ from one person to the next and are none of your business."

This. Plus, some of the most adult and thoughtful decision processess I have ever been privy to were ones regarding having a child "out of wedlock" when presented by choice or by surprise.

But I will at least register that I find this statement deeply offensive, a blanket moral judgment about situations and decision-making processes that differ from one person to the next and are none of your business.

This, I agree with. But also I understand a bit of where GOB is coming from, given how often stories like this pop into the local news. It's dismaying and disheartening.

That aside, people can be immature in small groups as easily as they can singly. Marriage doesn't guarantee that the kids will get fed, or not abused. Just today there was an article in the paper about parents (married!) who neglected and abused their young child.

There are arguably people who are immature, unserious, or just plain evilly predatorial about the whole child-raising process. The presence of those doesn't taint all parenthood any more than some negligent single parents taint all of single parenthood.

Of course having two parents is better from a whole volley of different perspectives than having just one. But those two, they have to be compatible; have common goals, mutual respect and affection, and be able to work as a team, or it can wind up being worse. Compatibility is the trick, isn't it?

This, I agree with. But also I understand a bit of where GOB is coming from, given how often stories like this pop into the local news. It's dismaying and disheartening.

The whole idea about inferring relative frequencies for, well, anything really, based on television new scares the daylights out of me. It is a big country. There are lots and lots of really screwed up people. Some of them are single parents, some are married parents, some are neither. Trying to guess at which group is bigger is a complex empirical question. Which TV news exposure does absolutely nothing to resolve.

Not that I'm saying you thought otherwise Slarti....

It is a big country. There are lots and lots of really screwed up people. Some of them are single parents, some are married parents, some are neither.

And local news operations are trying to find every single one of them and get them in front of a camera.

But also I understand a bit of where GOB is coming from...

Slarti, GOB didn't make the statement I objected to, wj did.

[I tried to post this right after you commented, and it hasn't appeared. I hope it doesn't now show up twice.

I think there's another point worth mentioning: Zoning optimized for revenue yield...the local government just wanted people to either build houses that would yield a lot of property taxes, or get the heck out of town so somebody else could.

I don't see why such zoning implies large houses rather than smaller ones, or more multi-family properties and denser housing.

There can be considerable difference between zoning that maximizes the value of individual homes and zoning that maximizes the total value of all properties. Homeowners like the former and, in my observation, often fight hard to get it by limiting densities through such means as minimum lot sizes, etc.

This is not to say that the effect is not similar, but it's not a result of socialist aliens taking over city government.

Slarti, GOB didn't make the statement I objected to, wj did.

Ah. Consider me corrected, JanieM. It's my just reward for skimming.

The whole idea about inferring relative frequencies for, well, anything really, based on television new scares the daylights out of me.

Newspaper, in this case. But your larger point stands.

'Slarti, GOB didn't make the statement I objected to, wj did.'

Thanks, JanieM, for the correction. I get enough 'credit' for the things I do say.

Really Jrudkis? Really?

I really don't think that there is a difference between 20 somethings today and yesteryear, nor that there are fewer opportunities. I don't recall any useful statistics in the article that would indicate a significant change. The whole article reminded me of the "drug catastrophe of the week" that Shafer at Slate routinely dispatches as baloney made up for a story. In otherwords, it was an anecdotal problem.

But to the extent that things are worse for 20 somethings today, they are also markedly better compared to what past 20 somethings had to endure: you have had 10 years at war with no draft, no risk of global thermo nuclear war, no dust bowl, no existential military threats on the horizon, airbags in cars...

The past looks better in hindsight, but there is probably no better time to be 20 something than right now.

Bernard Yomtov--

A city's obligations scale with its citizens; its income scales with its property value. Their interest does not lie in maximizing the community's total value, it lies in maximizing taxable wealth per capita.

Except, Jrudkis, that's not what you said. You didn't say we've/they've (depending on how you want to classify me, I'm still not used to be in my 30s yet) got it better than anyone else, with what you wrote, I heard "Kids today have it easy because their parents have so much wealth that they can afford to study useless things versus practical things in college and live off their parent's wealth, parents who will eventually die and leave it to them as inheritance to mooch off of."

School funding via property taxes does lead to a lot of perverse incentives, and not just in zoning. (which does lead to less density in zoning, though)

For example, it encourages trying to bring in people without kids, since a family with kids will cost the city/county more because of school costs. But then since you bring in people who don't have kids, they go "Well, I don't have kids, I don't see why I should pay taxes for schools!" which creates resentment and fertile ground for the anti-tax crowd, which then creates distorted local politics, and stalls or reduces property tax revenue, which then means the schools run into the same funding problem, only now with a larger group that's not tied into the community the same way, and treats education funding as "waste".

Much of this seems more to be looking at how closely people are performing this "traditional" (and clearly how traditional it is is questionable) narrative of adulthood, rather than at performances of maturity. It's worth noting, to people criticizing sociologists in general, that they are not a hivemind and the idea that even most sociologists have historically agreed on these markers is silly. It's also worth noting that the listed markers are incredibly specific to a portion of society that has changed drastically in the last few decades.

Nate, at this point most large states don't engage in school funding via local property taxes. California for example hasn't done so for at least 20 years.

Nate, at this point most large states don't engage in school funding via local property taxes.

I'm not sure what you mean by this.

According to the Census Bureau, only 3 of the top 10, and 7 of the top 20, largest states get more school funding from the state than from local sources. (See Table 1, p. 1 (or p. 13 in pdf pages)). Table 4 shows local breakdown -- the vast majority of local money for most states is still property tax.

If you mean to say that states contribute more than they used to, and/or that what states contribute tends toward making the quality more even across local school districts, that's different from saying that "most large states don't engage in school funding via local property taxes." Unless I'm misreading the Census Bureau tables, they most certainly do.

For California specifically, the charts show that about a quarter of total school funding comes from local property taxes (~14.5MM / 58MM+).

Yeah, Ohio (we're #7! wooooo!) not only still funds public schools primarily via property taxes, it does so in the face of a 1997 (!) ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court ruling that the states method of funding schools is unconstitutional. In 1998, voters rejected a one-percent increase in the sales tax which would have been split between school funding and property tax relief. They also rejected a ballot issue that would have allowed the state to sell bonds for capital improvements for schools.

I think, in 2008, that state funding for Ohio schools finally reached 50%. Gov. Strickland has a funding plan that, when fully phased in by 2019, would have the state providing 60% of school funding.

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