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Does housing allowance feed through into rental prices?

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  • Virén, Matti

Abstract

This paper deals with the incidence of housing subsidies, which is analysed using Finnish panel data. The main data set comprises 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 feed through into rental prices. A conservative estimate of the size of the feed-through is one-third, but it is certainly possible that the number is, in reality, as high as 50 per cent. 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 programme. Our results seem to be consistent with other studies, which have also indicated relatively high 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 regard to the share of costs that remains on households own accounts and the implicit indexation of the system.

Suggested Citation

  • Virén, Matti, 2011. "Does housing allowance feed through into rental prices?," Research Discussion Papers 11/2011, Bank of Finland.
  • Handle: RePEc:bof:bofrdp:2011_011
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    1. Mark Bils & Peter J. Klenow, 2004. "Some Evidence on the Importance of Sticky Prices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 947-985, October.
    2. Rosen, Harvey S., 1985. "Housing subsidies: Effects on housing decisions, efficiency, and equity," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 375-420 Elsevier.
    3. Lyytikäinen, Teemu, 2006. "Rent Control and Tenants' Welfare: The Effects of Deregulating Rental Markets in Finland," Discussion Papers 385, VATT Institute for Economic Research.
    4. 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.
    5. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    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. Aki Kangasharju, 2010. "Housing Allowance and the Rent of Low-income Households," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 112(3), pages 595-617, September.
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