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Intergenerational transfers, borrowing constraints, and saving behavior: evidence from the housing market

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  • Gary V. Engelhardt
  • Christopher J. Mayer

Abstract

This paper examines the effects of intergenerational transfers on saving behavior by examining private wealth transfers targeted toward first-time home purchases. The study of transfer behavior in the housing market is advantageous for a number of reasons: the down payment requirement associated with home purchase can be thought of as an important, well-defined borrowing constraint that most U.S. households face; private wealth transfers targeted to home purchases are significant; and home equity is a highly important component of household wealth in the United States. The empirical analysis shows that transfer recipients have a saving rate that is lower than that of non-recipients by as much as 6 percentage points, representing a reduction of 39 to 49 percent in the household saving rate. In addition, households that receive transfers reduce the time required to save for the down payment by 22 percent. For each dollar of transfer received, households increase the dollar amount of the down payment by about 85 cents, allowing them to achieve a higher down payment threshold. Households also increase the value of the home purchased upon receiving a transfer, but by an amount that is much lower than would be possible if the transfer were fully leveraged. The amount of the transfer appears to be targeted to help households achieve certain down payment thresholds that give favorable terms on mortgages. Although the evidence suggests that the availability of a transfer reduces household savings, we cannot reject the alternative hypothesis that transfer recipients are inherently low savers.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its series Working Papers with number 95-11.

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Date of creation: 1995
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:95-11

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Keywords: Consumer behavior ; Housing ; Saving and investment;

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References

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  1. Henderson, J Vernon & Ioannides, Yannis M, 1983. "A Model of Housing Tenure Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 98-113, March.
  2. Plaut, Steven E., 1987. "The timing of housing tenure transition," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 312-322, May.
  3. Weil, David N, 1994. "The Saving of the Elderly in Micro and Macro Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(1), pages 55-81, February.
  4. William G. Gale & John Karl Scholz, 1991. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Accumulation of Wealth," UCLA Economics Working Papers 624, UCLA Department of Economics.
  5. Douglas Holtz-Eakin & David Joulfaian & Harvey S. Rosen, 1993. "The Carnegie Conjecture: Some Empirical Evidence," NBER Working Papers 4118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Christopher J. Mayer & Katerina V. Simons, 1994. "A new look at reverse mortgages: potential market and institutional constraints," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Mar, pages 15-26.
  7. Munnell, Alicia H. & Geoffrey M. B. Tootell & Lynn E. Browne & James McEneaney, 1996. "Mortgage Lending in Boston: Interpreting HMDA Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 25-53, March.
  8. Gary V. Engelhardt & Christopher J. Mayer, 1994. "Gifts for home purchase and housing market behavior," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue May, pages 47-58.
  9. Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1989. "Intergenerational Transfers and Savings," NBER Working Papers 2237, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Cox, Donald & Jappelli, Tullio, 1990. "Credit Rationing and Private Transfers: Evidence from Survey Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(3), pages 445-54, August.
  11. Barry Bosworth & Gary Burtless & John Sabelhaus, 1991. "The Decline in Saving: Some Microeconomic Evidence," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(1), pages 183-256.
  12. Modigliani, Franco, 1988. "The Role of Intergenerational Transfers and Life Cycle Saving in the Accumulation of Wealth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 15-40, Spring.
  13. Artle, Roland & Varaiya, Pravin, 1978. "Life cycle consumption and homeownership," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 38-58, June.
  14. Gary V. Engelhardt, 1995. "House Prices and Home Owner Saving Behavior," NBER Working Papers 5183, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Jaffee, Dwight & Stiglitz, Joseph, 1990. "Credit rationing," Handbook of Monetary Economics, in: B. M. Friedman & F. H. Hahn (ed.), Handbook of Monetary Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 16, pages 837-888 Elsevier.
  16. Brueckner, Jan K., 1986. "The downpayment constraint and housing tenure choice : A simplified exposition," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 519-525, November.
  17. Poterba, James M & Venti, Steven F & Wise, David A, 1994. "Targeted Retirement Saving and the Net Worth of Elderly Americans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 180-85, May.
  18. Mark B. Stewart, 1982. "On Least Squares Estimation When the Dependent Variable is Grouped," Working Papers 539, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  19. Peter M. Zorn, 1989. "Mobility-Tenure Decisions and Financial Credit: Do Mortgage Qualification Requirements Constrain Homeownership?," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 17(1), pages 1-16.
  20. Peter Linneman & Susan Wachter, 1989. "The Impacts of Borrowing Constraints on Homeownership," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 17(4), pages 389-402.
  21. Cox, Donald, 1990. "Intergenerational Transfers and Liquidity Constraints," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(1), pages 187-217, February.
  22. Engelhardt, Gary V., 1996. "House prices and home owner saving behavior," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3-4), pages 313-336, June.
  23. Chan, Sewin, 1996. "Residential mobility and mortgages," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3-4), pages 287-311, June.
  24. Brueckner Jan K., 1994. "Borrower Mobility, Adverse Selection, and Mortgage Points," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 416-441, September.
  25. Sewin Chan, 1995. "Residential Mobility and Mortgages," NBER Working Papers 5181, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Engelhardt, Gary V, 1996. "Consumption, Down Payments, and Liquidity Constraints," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 28(2), pages 255-71, May.
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