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Is the housing allowance shifted to rental prices?

  • Matti Viren


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    This paper deals with the incidence of housing subsidies, which we analyze using Finnish panel data. The main data set includes 50,000 households that received housing allowances during the period 2000–2008. In addition, we utilize repeated cross-sections of all Finnish households for 1989–2008, the annual sample exceeding 10,000. Estimation results suggest that a part of the subsidies will indeed go into rental prices. A conservative estimate of the size of the shift is one-third, but it is certainly possible that the number is as high as 50 %. On the other hand, the subsidy seems to have increased housing demand more than the subsidy-induced income effect would have implied, which is in accordance with the goals of the subsidy program. Our results seem to be consistent with other studies, which have also indicated relatively large rent effects. If this is indeed the case, we are advised to reconsider the need for reforming the system of housing subsidies, at least with respect to the share of costs that remains on households’ own accounts and the implicit indexation of the system. Copyright Springer-Verlag 2013

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    Article provided by Springer in its journal Empirical Economics.

    Volume (Year): 44 (2013)
    Issue (Month): 3 (June)
    Pages: 1497-1518

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    Handle: RePEc:spr:empeco:v:44:y:2013:i:3:p:1497-1518
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    1. Mark Bils & Peter J. Klenow, 2002. "Some Evidence on the Importance of Sticky Prices," NBER Working Papers 9069, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. le Blanc, David & Laferrere, Anne, 2001. "The Effect of Public Social Housing on Households' Consumption in France," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 429-455, December.
    3. Matti Viren, 2009. "Does the Value-Added Tax Shift to Consumption Prices?," Czech Economic Review, Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Economic Studies, vol. 3(2), pages 123-142, July.
    4. Randal Verbrugge, 2008. "The Puzzling Divergence Of Rents And User Costs, 1980-2004," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 54(4), pages 671-699, December.
    5. Laferrere, Anne & Le Blanc, David, 2004. "How do housing allowances affect rents? An empirical analysis of the French case," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 36-67, March.
    6. Susin, Scott, 2002. "Rent vouchers and the price of low-income housing," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 109-152, January.
    7. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275, February.
    8. Fack, Gabrielle, 2006. "Are housing benefit an effective way to redistribute income? Evidence from a natural experiment in France," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(6), pages 747-771, December.
    9. Aki Kangasharju, 2010. "Housing Allowance and the Rent of Low-income Households," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 112(3), pages 595-617, 09.
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