Are Today’s Renters Really Worse off than Their Parents?

In an article titled “Today’s Renters Really Are Worse Off Than Their Parents,” the Wall Street Journal reported on a new study from Apartment List that claims that after adjusting for inflation, the growth in rent has far outpaced the growth in household income. On its face, it is a fairly daunting finding: since 1960, median rent has grown 64 percent, while median household income has only grown 18 percent. If household resources really stagnated this much over the last several decades, then today’s renters would surely be worse off than previous generations. Fortunately for renters, Apartment List does not fully measure how resources available to the median household have changed over time. When using Congressional Budget Office (CBO) data that incorporate three standard adjustments to household income, it is clear that incomes have indeed kept up with growing rent and have likely even outpaced rent.

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