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Distributional costs of the housing-price bust

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  • Cynthia A. Bansa
  • Martha A. Starr

Abstract

In considering whether asset-price bubbles should be offset through policy, an important issue is who pays the price when the bubble bursts. A bust that reduces the wealth of well-off households only may have small welfare costs, but costs may be sizable if broad swaths of households are affected. This paper uses micro data from the American Community Survey to examine how the recent housing bust affected households' employment, homeownership, home values, and housing costs. To separate dynamics of the housing bust from those of the aggregate downturn, we differentiate between metropolitan areas that did and did not experience bubbles. We find that, for most measures, deteriorations in well-being were more severe in bubble metros than elsewhere, and for several measures, differential effects on less-educated households were also more severe. This underscores the importance of keeping housing markets from overheating, as burdens of adjustment fall differentially on people not well prepared to bear them.

Suggested Citation

  • Cynthia A. Bansa & Martha A. Starr, 2011. "Distributional costs of the housing-price bust," Working Papers 2011-04, American University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:amu:wpaper:2011-04
    DOI: 10.17606/dqeh-wk63
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    File URL: https://doi.org/10.17606/dqeh-wk63
    File Function: First version, 2011
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    Cited by:

    1. Dunn, Lucia & Olsen, Randall, 2014. "US household real net worth through the Great Recession and beyond: Have we recovered?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 122(2), pages 272-275.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    JEL classification: R21; D31; D12; E32;

    JEL classification:

    • R21 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Housing Demand
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles

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