The Great Risk Shift and Precarity in the U.S. Housing Market

Rachel E. Dwyer, Lora A. Phillips Lassus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


In this article, we propose that metropolitan areas represent differential “risk contexts” to the people who live within them and argue that growing insecurity in U.S. metropolitan areas arises out of cross-cutting economic weaknesses that are too often seen in isolation. The housing crisis that led up to the Great Recession was a moment in which the underlying vulnerabilities in our markets and institutions were laid bare. The crisis also occurred in the context of the “great risk shift” in American society—where individuals are increasingly responsible for managing the ordinary risks of life in a modern economy. The multiple sources of precarity in the housing market highlight the complex nature of insecurity that many Americans face. We look at metropolitan variability in foreclosures to identify conditions that contributed to the housing crisis. We build on prior research by showing different sources of vulnerability to the housing crisis in metropolitan areas—including labor market insecurity and housing market insecurity—and find that some of the metropolitan areas that fared the worst faced problems in both markets before the crisis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-216
Number of pages18
JournalAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 12 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • housing
  • inequality
  • insecurity
  • labor market
  • urban areas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


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