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No Place Like Home: Older Adults and Their Housing

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Author Info

  • Timothy Smeeding
  • Barbara Boyle Torrey
  • Jonathon Fisher
  • David S. Johnson
  • Joseph Marchand

Abstract

Objectives: This paper employs new data on the consumption and assets of older Americans to investigate recent research findings that older adults do not convert their home equity into income that can be used for current consumption, as the life-cycle hypothesis predicts. We use data over twenty years from the Consumer Expenditure Survey to examine the asset and consumption trends of older adults, buttressed with additional findings from the Survey of Consumer Finances and the American Housing Survey. Older American's homeownership rates are stable until age 80 and after 80 tend to decline slowly. The homes are increasingly mortgage-free; home equity increases with age, and few older adults take out home equity loans or reverse annuity mortgages. Housing consumption-flows increase with age; non-housing consumption-flows decline after age 60 at a rate of approximately 1.4% a year. The results suggest that most older Americans are not converting their housing assets into consumption despite the life-cycle hypothesis predictions. This is also inconsistent with international trends where homeownership rates fall substantially with age. One reason may be because older Americans may be holding onto their homes to finance long-term care. If this is the case, their economic behavior may be more consistent with the life-cycle hypothesis than previous research suggests.

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File URL: http://crr.bc.edu/working-papers/no-place-like-home-older-adults-and-their-housing/
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Center for Retirement Research in its series Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College with number wp2006-16.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:crr:crrwps:wp2006-16

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Related research

Keywords: older Americans; home equity; income; convert; homeownership; mortgages; consumption;

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Jonathan Skinner, 2007. "Are You Sure You're Saving Enough for Retirement?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 59-80, Summer.
  2. Esteban Calvo & Kelly Haverstick & Natalia A. Zhivan, 2009. "Determinants and Consequences of Moving Decisions for Older Homeowners," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2009-16, Center for Retirement Research, revised Aug 2009.
  3. Esteban Calvo & Kelly Haverstick & Natalia A. Zhivan, 2009. "Older Americans On The Go: Financial and Psychological Effects of Moving," Issues in Brief ib2009-9-19, Center for Retirement Research, revised 2009.
  4. Andrea Brandolini & Silvia Magri & Timothy M. Smeeding, 2010. "Asset-based measurement of poverty," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(2), pages 267-284.
  5. James Poterba & Steven Venti & David Wise, 2011. "The Composition and Drawdown of Wealth in Retirement," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(4), pages 95-118, Fall.
  6. Jonathan D. Fisher & Joseph Marchand, 2011. "Does the Retirement Consumption Puzzle Differ Across the Distribution?," Working Papers 11-09r, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  7. Kelly Haverstick & Natalia A. Zhivan, 2009. "Older Americans On The Go: How Often, Where, and Why?," Issues in Brief ib2009-9-18, Center for Retirement Research, revised Sep 2009.
  8. Jan Rouwendal, 2009. "Housing Wealth and Household Portfolios in an Ageing Society," De Economist, Springer, vol. 157(1), pages 1-48, March.
  9. Frick, Joachim R. & Grabka, Markus M. & Smeeding, Timothy M. & Tsakloglou, Panos, 2010. "Distributional Effects of Imputed Rents in Five European Countries," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics.

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