The Wealthy Boomer did a piece on the financial habits of homeowners and non-homeowners. The piece quotes from a survey that concludes that homeowners are more financially fit. This study is reasonable as far as it goes, but the conclusions confuse correlation with causation.
Among Canadians who own a home, 65% pay off their credit card balances each month compared to only 48% of non-homeowners. This and other statistics leads Genworth Financial president and COO Peter Vukanovich to conclude that “homeownership helps people focus on their financial situation and get their fiscal house in order.” The idea is that buying a home somehow makes you better at managing your money.
This last part is a theory based on the correlation uncovered by the study. Another theory is that people who cannot manage their money well are less likely to buy homes. Personally, I find this theory more plausible. Maybe there is some truth to both theories, but the statistics do not prove either one.
This whole business is like examining the height of basketball players and concluding that you can grow taller if you start playing basketball. In this case it is quite obvious that causation goes in the other direction; people who are tall are more likely to be drawn to playing basketball.
This problem with the conclusions of studies comes up very frequently. The next time you read about a study, try looking for unjustified leaps to convenient conclusions.