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House Prices and Consumer Welfare

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  • Bajari, Patrick

    (Stanford U)

  • Benkard, C. Lanier
  • Krainer, John

    (Federal Bank of San Francisco)

Abstract

We develop a new approach to measuring changes in consumer welfare due to changes in the price of owner-occupied housing. In our approach, an agent's welfare adjustment is defined as the transfer required to keep expected discounted utility constant given a change in current house prices. We demonstrate that, up to a first-order approximation, there is no aggregate change in welfare due to price increases in the existing housing stock. This follows from a simple market clearing condition where capital gains experienced by sellers are exactly offset by welfare losses to buyers. We show that this result holds (approximately) even in a model that accounts for changes in consumption and investment plans prompted by current house price changes. There can, however, be changes in welfare due to additions to the stock of housing, or to changes in the price of renovating and upgrading the existing stock of housing. For the United States, we estimate the welfare cost of house price appreciation to be an average of $127 per household per year over the 1984-1998 period.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Stanford University, Graduate School of Business in its series Research Papers with number 1840.

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Date of creation: Jan 2004
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:1840

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  1. Glenn Canner & Karen Dynan & Wayne Passmore, 2002. "Mortgage refinancing in 2001 and early 2002," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Dec, pages 469-481.
  2. Karl E. Case & John M. Quigley & Robert J. Shiller, 2001. "Comparing Wealth Effects: The Stock Market versus the Housing Market," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1335, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  3. Dougherty, Ann & Van Order, Robert, 1982. "Inflation, Housing Costs, and the Consumer Price Index," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 154-64, March.
  4. Hilary W. Hoynes & Daniel L. McFadden, 1996. "The Impact of Demographics on Housing and Nonhousing Wealth in the United States," NBER Chapters, in: The Economic Effects of Aging in the United States and Japan, pages 153-194 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2002. "The Benefits of the Home Mortgage Interest Deduction," NBER Working Papers 9284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. James M. Poterba, 1983. "Tax Subsidies to Owner-occupied Housing: An Asset Market Approach," Working papers 339, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  7. Diewert, W. E., 1976. "Exact and superlative index numbers," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 115-145, May.
  8. DiPasquale Denise & Wheaton William C., 1994. "Housing Market Dynamics and the Future of Housing Prices," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 1-27, January.
  9. Blackley, Dixie M. & Follain, James R., 1996. "In search of empirical evidence that links rent and user cost," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3-4), pages 409-431, June.
  10. DiPasquale, Denise & Wheaton, William C., 1992. "The cost of capital, tax reform, and the future of the rental housing market," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 337-359, May.
  11. Kearl, J R, 1979. "Inflation, Mortgages, and Housing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 1115-38, October.
  12. Theodore M. Crone & Leonard I. Nakamura & Richard Voith, 1999. "Measuring housing services inflation," Working Papers 99-9, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
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