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Using Home Maintenance and Repairs to Smooth Variable Earnings

  • Joseph Gyourko

    (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania)

  • Joseph Tracy

    (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)

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.

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File URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/rest.88.4.736
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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Review of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 88 (2006)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 736-747

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:88:y:2006:i:4:p:736-747
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