A Cross-Section Analysis of the Income Elasticity of Housing Demand in Spain: Is There a Real Estate Bubble?
Much attention has been given to claims that real estate prices in Spain are overvalued in relation to income and how plummeting house prices can jeopardize the economy (The Economist, 2003 and IMF, 2004). The measure of income elasticity on housing expenditure is often of considerable interest to applied researchers and policy makers in real estate economics, but the problem of omitted variables in some estimation techniques can lead to severe biases. In this paper we estimate the income elasticity of the demand for housing in Spain based on the cross-section of prices and income in fifty Spanish provinces from 1996 to 2002. In comparison to long-run equilibrium models fitted with time-series data, our results show a much weaker role of income growth as a vehicle for house price increases in the long run. According to our estimates, the rate of growth of house prices in Spain between 1998 and 2003 points to a real estate bubble with prices above the long-term equilibrium level. Copyright Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2006
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