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Using home maintenance and repairs to smooth variable earnings

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  • Joseph Gyourko
  • Joseph Tracy

Abstract

Recent research indicates that the marked increase in U.S. income inequality over the last twenty-five years has not been matched by a similar increase in consumption inequality. This paper examines the role of saving/dissaving in a house as a vehicle for consumption smoothing. Data from the American Housing Survey show that expenditures on home maintenance and repairs are economically significant, amounting to roughly $1,750 per household each year. This figure is comparable to the labor literature estimates that put households' average annual transitory income variance at about $2,200. Our calculations show a significant elasticity of maintenance and repair expenditures to transitory income shocks. The elasticities are higher for less well educated households, which are more likely to be liquidity constrained than their better educated counterparts.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Staff Reports with number 168.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:168

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Keywords: Income distribution ; Consumption (Economics) ; Households ; Saving and investment;

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  1. John Bound & Alan B. Krueger, 1989. "The Extent of Measurement Error In Longitudinal Earnings Data: Do Two Wrongs Make A Right?," NBER Working Papers 2885, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. John M. Abowd & David Card, 1986. "On the Covariance Structure of Earnings and Hours Changes," NBER Working Papers 1832, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Hurst, Erik & Stafford, Frank, 2004. "Home Is Where the Equity Is: Mortgage Refinancing and Household Consumption," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 36(6), pages 985-1014, December.
  4. Nelson, Forrest & Olson, Lawrence, 1978. "Specification and Estimation of a Simultaneous-Equation Model with Limited Dependent Variables," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 19(3), pages 695-709, October.
  5. Martin Browning & Annamaria Lusardi, 1996. "Household Saving: Micro Theories and Micro Facts," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(4), pages 1797-1855, December.
  6. John R. Knight & Thomas Miceli & C. F. Sirmans, 2000. "Repair Expenses, Selling Contracts, and House Prices," Journal of Real Estate Research, American Real Estate Society, vol. 20(3), pages 323-336.
  7. MaCurdy, Thomas E., 1982. "The use of time series processes to model the error structure of earnings in a longitudinal data analysis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 83-114, January.
  8. Bennett, Paul & Peach, Richard & Peristiani, Stavros, 2001. "Structural Change in the Mortgage Market and the Propensity to Refinance," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 33(4), pages 955-75, November.
  9. Dirk Kreuger & Fabrizio Perri, 2002. "Does Income Inequality Lead to Consumption Inequality? Evidence and Theory," Working Papers 02-15, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  10. Altonji, Joseph G & Siow, Aloysius, 1987. "Testing the Response of Consumption to Income Changes with (Noisy) Panel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(2), pages 293-328, May.
  11. Goetzmann, W.N. & Spiegel, M., 1992. "Non-temporal Components of Residential Real Estate Appreciation," Papers 92-20, Columbia - Graduate School of Business.
  12. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
  13. Joseph Tracy & Henry Schneider & Sewin Chan, 1999. "Are stocks overtaking real estate in household portfolios?," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 5(Apr).
  14. Mendelsohn, Robert, 1977. "Empirical evidence on home improvements," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 459-468, October.
  15. Susan Dynarski & Jonathan Gruber, 1997. "Can Families Smooth Variable Earnings?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 28(1), pages 229-303.
  16. Thomas P. Boehm & Keith R. Ihlanfeldt, 1986. "The Improvement Expenditures of Urban Homeowners: An Empirical Analysis," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 14(1), pages 48-60.
  17. Peter Gottschalk & Robert Moffitt, 1994. "The Growth of Earnings Instability in the U.S. Labor Market," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 25(2), pages 217-272.
  18. Reschovsky, James D, 1992. "An Empirical Investigation into Homeowner Demand for Home Upkeep and Improvement," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 55-71, March.
  19. Topel, Robert H, 1986. "Local Labor Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages S111-43, June.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Todd Sinai & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2003. "Owner-Occupied Housing as a Hedge Against Rent Risk," NBER Working Papers 9462, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Wenli Li & Rui Yao, 2005. "The life-cycle effects of house price changes," Working Papers 05-7, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  3. Stephen H. Shore & Todd Sinai, 2010. "Commitment, Risk, and Consumption: Do Birds of a Feather Have Bigger Nests?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(2), pages 408-424, May.
  4. Olga gorbachev, 2007. "Did Household Consumption Become More Volatile?," ESE Discussion Papers 161, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  5. Joseph Gyourko & Albert Saiz, 2003. "Urban decline and housing reinvestment: the role of construction costs and the supply side," Working Papers 03-9, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  6. Andrew Haughwout & Sarah Sutherland & Joseph Tracy, 2013. "Negative equity and housing investment," Staff Reports 636, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  7. S�ren Leth-Petersen, 2010. "Intertemporal Consumption and Credit Constraints: Does Total Expenditure Respond to an Exogenous Shock to Credit?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(3), pages 1080-1103, June.
  8. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko, 2007. "Arbitrage in Housing Markets," NBER Working Papers 13704, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Morris A. Davis & Robert F. Martin, 2005. "Housing, house prices, and the equity premium puzzle," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2005-13, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).

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