Military Veterans and Neighborhood Racial Integration: VA Mortgage Lending Across Three Eras


Social mobility, Homeownership, Veterans, Racial residential segregation


The military has long been seen as an avenue for increasing racial equality for minorities, especially black Americans. In this article, we examine to what extent military veterans also experience residential integration by looking at neighborhood residential outcomes for black and white men utilizing the popular Veterans Affairs (VA) loan program to purchase a home. We draw on data from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) to examine residential integration among white and black veteran homebuyers compared to homebuyers utilizing conventional loans over three major lending eras: 1990s, 2000–2007, and 2008–2015. By 2015, a quarter of all home purchase mortgages loans to black men were VA loans even though veterans made up only a tenth of the adult black male population. In our multivariate analyses, we uncover a sizeable combined swing toward neighborhood minority-white integration, 14.4% points, among black and white veterans who use VA loans. Compared to those with conventional loans, black veterans live in neighborhoods with 10% points fewer minorities and, white veterans, 4.4% points fewer whites. Our results illustrate how racial integration in the US military has the potential to foster lasting housing integration among veterans.

Original Publication Citation

Fischer, Mary J. and Jacob S. Rugh. 2018. “Military Veterans and Neighborhood Racial Integration: VA Mortgage Lending Across Three Eras.” Population Research and Policy Review. 1-21. doi: 10.1007/s11113-018-9471-7

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Population Research and Policy Review




Family, Home, and Social Sciences



University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor