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House prices and consumer welfare

  • Bajari, Patrick
  • Benkard, C. Lanier
  • Krainer, John

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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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Urban Economics.

Volume (Year): 58 (2005)
Issue (Month): 3 (November)
Pages: 474-487

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Handle: RePEc:eee:juecon:v:58:y:2005:i:3:p:474-487
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622905

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  1. Poterba, James M, 1984. "Tax Subsidies to Owner-occupied Housing: An Asset-Market Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 99(4), pages 729-52, November.
  2. Case, Karl E. & Quigley, John M. & Shiller, Robert J., 2001. "Comparing Wealth Effects: The Stock Market versus The Housing Market," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt44k6g6vx, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
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  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
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  12. Kearl, J R, 1979. "Inflation, Mortgages, and Housing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 1115-38, October.
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