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Using Home Maintenance and Repairs to Smooth Variable Earnings

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  • Joseph Gyourko

    (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania)

  • Joseph Tracy

    (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)

Abstract

Recent research documents a significant increase in U.S. transitory income variance over the past 25 years. An emerging literature explores the role of durables in the household's attempt to smooth consumption over these movements in transitory income. This paper examines the degree to which homeowners adjust their home maintenance decisions in order to offset transitory income fluctuations. American Housing Survey data show that home maintenance expenditures are economically significant, amounting to nearly $2,100 per year. We find a statistically significant positive elasticity of maintenance expenditures to estimated transitory income changes. However, the results suggest that adjusting home maintenance expenditures plays a relatively minor role in the household's overall consumption smoothing strategy. In terms of actual dollars, deferred home maintenance offsets on average from 1 to 7 cents of each dollar of transitory income loss. Copyright by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Suggested Citation

  • Joseph Gyourko & Joseph Tracy, 2006. "Using Home Maintenance and Repairs to Smooth Variable Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(4), pages 736-747, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:88:y:2006:i:4:p:736-747
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    Cited by:

    1. Olga Gorbachev, 2011. "Did Household Consumption Become More Volatile?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2248-2270, August.
    2. Stephen H. Shore & Todd Sinai, 2010. "Commitment, Risk, and Consumption: Do Birds of a Feather Have Bigger Nests?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(2), pages 408-424, May.
    3. Chan, Sewin & Haughwout, Andrew & Tracy, Joseph, 2015. "How Mortgage Finance Affects the Urban Landscape," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.
    4. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko, 2007. "Arbitrage in Housing Markets," NBER Working Papers 13704, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Wenli Li & Rui Yao, 2007. "The Life-Cycle Effects of House Price Changes," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 39(6), pages 1375-1409, September.
    6. Søren Leth-Petersen, 2010. "Intertemporal Consumption and Credit Constraints: Does Total Expenditure Respond to an Exogenous Shock to Credit?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(3), pages 1080-1103, June.
    7. Todd Sinai & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2005. "Owner-Occupied Housing as a Hedge Against Rent Risk," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 763-789.
    8. Morris A. Davis & Robert F. Martin, 2005. "Housing, house prices, and the equity premium puzzle," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2005-13, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    9. Gyourko, Joseph & Saiz, Albert, 2004. "Reinvestment in the housing stock: the role of construction costs and the supply side," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 238-256, March.
    10. Andrew F. Haughwout & Sarah Sutherland & Joseph Tracy, 2013. "Negative equity and housing investment," Staff Reports 636, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    11. Joseph Gyourko & Albert Saiz, 2003. "Urban decline and housing reinvestment: the role of construction costs and the supply side," Working Papers 03-9, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

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