Gender and Wealth in Demographic Research: A Research Brief on a New Method and Application

Doron Shiffer-Sebba*, Julia Behrman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Gender differences in wealth are central to understanding gender stratification and demographic processes, but limited gender-disaggregated wealth data make it complicated to measure population-level gender-based wealth differentials. This research brief highlights a novel way to measure population-level gender differences in homeownership—a central measure of wealth—using a case study from two large diverse American cities. Rather than starting at the couple level and assuming joint ownership on property titles of married couples (the default in many surveys), we start at the property title level and examine owners’ gender for each property by applying a gender prediction algorithm to local administrative data from tax assessors in Philadelphia and Detroit. We then add community-level information from the American Community Survey (ACS). We document higher female ownership in both cities, although sole-female owners are also more likely to own lower value homes, suggesting enduring gender stratification. Using a representative household survey from Detroit, we also show how conventional survey data can dramatically overestimate joint couple property ownership and underestimate sole male and female ownership.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)643-659
Number of pages17
JournalPopulation Research and Policy Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Gender
  • Homeownership
  • Inequality
  • Wealth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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