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House Prices and Consumer Welfare

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  • Patrick Bajari
  • C. Lanier Benkard
  • John Krainer

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 home 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. Welfare losses can occur, however, from price increases in new construction and renovations. We show that this result holds (approximately) even in a model that accounts for changes in consumption and investment plans prompted by current price changes. 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 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9783.

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Date of creation: Jun 2003
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Publication status: published as Bajari, Patrick, C. Lanier Benkard and John Krainer. "House Prices And Consumer Welfare," Journal of Urban Economics, 2005, v58(3,Nov), 474-487.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9783

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Case Karl E. & Quigley John M. & Shiller Robert J., 2005. "Comparing Wealth Effects: The Stock Market versus the Housing Market," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-34, May.
  5. 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.), Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Dec, pages 469-481.
  6. Theodore M. Crone & Leonard I. Nakamura & Richard Voith, 1999. "Measuring housing services inflation," Working Papers 99-9, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  7. Hilary Williamson Hoynes & Daniel McFadden, 1994. "The Impact of Demographics on Housing and Non-Housing Wealth in the United States," NBER Working Papers 4666, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Diewert, W. E., 1976. "Exact and superlative index numbers," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 115-145, May.
  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, Elsevier, vol. 26(3-4), pages 409-431, June.
  10. James M. Poterba, 1983. "Tax Subsidies to Owner-occupied Housing: An Asset Market Approach," Working papers, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics 339, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  11. Kearl, J R, 1979. "Inflation, Mortgages, and Housing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 1115-38, October.
  12. Dougherty, Ann & Van Order, Robert, 1982. "Inflation, Housing Costs, and the Consumer Price Index," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 154-64, March.
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