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What happened to the East German housing market? A historical perspective on the role of public funding


  • Claus Michelsen
  • Dominik Weiss


This article analyses the development of the East German housing market after reunification of the former German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany in 1990. We analyse the dynamics of the East German housing market within the framework of the well known stock-flow model, proposed by DiPasquale and Wheaton. We show that the disequilibrium observable today is to a large extent caused by post-reunification housing policy and its strong fiscal incentives to invest in the housing stock. Moreover, in line with the stylised empirical facts we show that 'hidden reserves' of the housing market were reactivated since the economy of East Germany became market-organised. Since initial undersupply was overcome faster than politicians expected, the fiscal stimuli implemented were too strong. In contrast to the widespread opinion that outward migration caused the observable vacancies, this study shows that not weakness of demand but supply side policies caused the observable disequilibrium.

Suggested Citation

  • Claus Michelsen & Dominik Weiss, 2010. "What happened to the East German housing market? A historical perspective on the role of public funding," Post-Communist Economies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(3), pages 387-409.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:pocoec:v:22:y:2010:i:3:p:387-409 DOI: 10.1080/14631377.2010.498686

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko, 2005. "Urban Decline and Durable Housing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(2), pages 345-375, April.
    2. repec:zbw:iwhwiw:4-07-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. DiPasquale, Denise, 1999. "Why Don't We Know More about Housing Supply?," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 18(1), pages 9-23, January.
    4. Edward L. Glaeser & Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2003. "The Misallocation of Housing Under Rent Control," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1027-1046, September.
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    6. Boss, Alfred & Rosenschon, Astrid, 2008. "Der Kieler Subventionsbericht: eine Aktualisierung," Kiel Discussion Papers 452/453, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    7. William C. Wheaton, 1999. "Real Estate "Cycles": Some Fundamentals," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 27(2), pages 209-230.
    8. Charles Ka Yui Leung & Wei Wang, 2007. "An Examination of the Chinese Housing Market through the Lens of the DiPasquale- Wheaton Model: a Graphical Attempt," International Real Estate Review, Asian Real Estate Society, vol. 10(2), pages 131-165.
    9. de Leeuw, Frank & Ekanem, Nkanta F, 1971. "The Supply of Rental Housing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(5), pages 806-817, December.
    10. Denise DiPasquale & William C. Wheaton, 1992. "The Markets for Real Estate Assets and Space: A Conceptual Framework," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 20(2), pages 181-198.
    11. Blum, Ulrich, 2007. "Honeckers langer Schatten oder die aktuelle Wirtschaftsschwäche Ostdeutschlands," Wirtschaft im Wandel, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH), vol. 13(4), pages 109-116.
    12. Robert P. Albon & David C. Stafford, 1990. "Rent Control and Housing Maintenance," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 27(2), pages 233-240, April.
    13. Cheshire, Paul & Sheppard, Stephen, 1995. "On the Price of Land and the Value of Amenities," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 62(246), pages 247-267, May.
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    15. Knight, John R. & Sirmans, C. F., 1996. "Depreciation, Maintenance, and Housing Prices," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 369-389, December.
    16. Hoyt, William H. & Rosenthal, Stuart S., 1997. "Household Location and Tiebout: Do Families Sort According to Preferences for Locational Amenities?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 159-178, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Joseph DeSalvo, 2017. "Teaching the DiPasquale-Wheaton Model," Working Papers 0117, University of South Florida, Department of Economics.
    2. Konstantin A. Kholodilin & Claus Michelsen & Dirk Ulbricht, 2014. "Speculative Price Bubbles in Urban Housing Markets in Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1417, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    3. Marius Claudy and Claus Michelsen, 2016. "Housing Market Fundamentals, Housing Quality and Energy Consumption: Evidence from Germany," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4).
    4. Dominik Weiß & Claus Michelsen, 2011. "The improvement of housing conditions in post com-munist Germany – Market Mechanisms and Subsidy Impacts," ERSA conference papers ersa11p505, European Regional Science Association.
    5. Konstantin Kholodilin, 2015. "Speculative Bubbles in Urban Housing Markets in Germany," ERSA conference papers ersa15p67, European Regional Science Association.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D5 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • R21 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Housing Demand
    • R28 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Government Policy
    • R31 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Housing Supply and Markets


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