Chart of the Day: Renting and Ethnicity in Minnesota

Here’s a chart from this great “statistics and demographics” article in today’s Star Tribune. Check it out:


CJ Sinner at the Star Tribune reports on how and why these data were created:

Recently, a sharp drop in median income among Black Minnesotans prompted the Minnesota State Demographic Center to take a deeper economic look at ethnic “subgroups” — the smaller groups that make up each of those larger racial groups.

These subgroups together represent a relatively small percentage of Minnesota’s population — less than 20 percent — but they are growing quickly. White Minnesotans make up the largest group at 4.4 million residents.

In my opinion, the rental chart is pertinent to many of the conversations around land use and urban design. A lot of the time the “renters v. homeowners” conversations (like this one) take place in the abstract conceptual realm of property values or “quality of life.”

But race plays a huge and often unspoken factor. Who rents? Who owns their own homes? Are policies that make renting property more difficult inherently discriminatory, even if they remain ostensibly colorblind?

At the very least, these facts from the State demographer make it clear that we should consider questions like these, because home ownership is not equally distributed in Minnesota.

9 thoughts on “Chart of the Day: Renting and Ethnicity in Minnesota

  1. Will StancilWill Stancil

    The gap between African-American and even most immigrant subgroups is astonishing. Though given the extremely low rates of homeownership among Somali immigrants, I wonder if non-Somali East African immigrants got incorporated into African-American and thus dragged the number down.

    1. Molly

      The State Demographic Center defines African-Americans as U.S. born only and their children. Smaller immigrant groups are included in the “All Minnesotans” data but they do not provided information on the individual population group. I think the cutoff is 0.1% of the population for their overall data, but for some metrics (like home-ownership) the data for some populations who are above 0.1% (Ethiopian and Liberian) is suppressed because they received too few responses and the margin of error is too big. The full report has lots of good information:

  2. Sam

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. It is racist to assume that home ownership is something that everyone strives for. Just because you’re white and think owning a home means you achieved the American Dream, does not mean every one thinks that way.

    Does my explanation explain this data? No, probably not. But it’s ridiculous to think you can look at this chart and scream institutional racism.

    Millennials vastly prefer to rent. Does that mean they have been discriminated against?

    1. cobo Rodreges

      I guess when I looked at the chart it didn’t occur to me to think of it in terms of racism or social justice.

      I just saw interesting data.

      That being said I think it would be naive to assume that the vast majority of people who belong to specific races prefer renting.

      But it is also naive to say that this difference is due to racism. Since so many other factors are at play (Skills, education, language, accumulated wealth, culture, number or dependents, aspiration of home ownership, etc)

      Not everything is about race

    2. Nathan

      I think that, yes, it’s possible desire for home ownership may vary between racial/ethnic groups, just as it does between generations. But these differences in home ownership can also be correlated with discrimination in the housing market that maintains the racially and economically segregated conditions we associate with blockbusting, redlining, etc. ( Those policies are now illegal, but the legacy still affects what happens today.

    3. Will StancilWill Stancil

      I think absent evidence to the contrary it’s generally safest and least racist to assume that people in different ethnic groups have the same basic wants and needs. Just a thought.

      Also, housing is a major component of wealth accumulation, and therefore different rates of homeownership seem highly relevant to the massive, hugely-troubling wealth gap between blacks and whites.

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