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The Housing Bubble and Retirement Security

  • Alicia H. Munnell
  • Mauricio Soto

House prices rose 60 percent between 2000 and 2007 before the housing bubble burst. The question is whether the housing boom made people better or worse prepared for retirement. Theory says that infinitely-lived households experience no increase in their real net worth when housing prices increase and would therefore have no reason to borrow against the increment in their home equity to increase their consumption. Two pieces of evidence suggest that they did tap their equity: the big increase in mortgage borrowing has accompanied the run-up in house prices, and a number of studies have reported a positive relationship between house prices and consumption. Using the 2004 Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) this paper investigates the probability of households extracting home equity through an increase in housing-related debt, the probability that they use their housing-related borrowing for consumption, and finally the factors that determine the level of consumption spending out of their increased debt. The results show that while homeowners appear to take the present discounted value of future rents into account, many of them extracted equity and used it for consumption. A substantial proportion – perhaps 30 percent – of older households will be less secure in retirement because of the housing bubble.

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File URL: http://crr.bc.edu/working-papers/the-housing-bubble-and-retirement-security-2/
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Paper provided by Center for Retirement Research in its series Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College with number wp2008-13.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2008
Date of revision: Aug 2008
Handle: RePEc:crr:crrwps:wp2008-13
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  1. Todd Sinai & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2003. "Owner-Occupied Housing as a Hedge Against Rent Risk," NBER Working Papers 9462, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Jonathan Skinner, 1993. "Is Housing Wealth a Sideshow?," NBER Working Papers 4552, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Carroll, Christopher D. & Otsuka, Misuzu & Slacalek, Jirka, 2006. "How large is the housing wealth effect? A new approach," CFS Working Paper Series 2006/35, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  4. Campbell, John Y. & Cocco, Joao F., 2007. "How do house prices affect consumption? Evidence from micro data," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 591-621, April.
  5. Alicia H. Munnell & Mauricio Soto, 2008. "The Housing Bubble and Retirement Security," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2008-13, Center for Retirement Research, revised Aug 2008.
  6. Karl E. Case & Robert J. Shiller & John M. Quigley, 2001. "Comparing Wealth Effects: The Stock Market Versus the Housing Market," NBER Working Papers 8606, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Munnell, Alicia H. & Geoffrey M. B. Tootell & Lynn E. Browne & James McEneaney, 1996. "Mortgage Lending in Boston: Interpreting HMDA Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 25-53, March.
  8. Alan Greenspan & James Kennedy, 2008. "Sources and uses of equity extracted from homes," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(1), pages 120-144, spring.
  9. Morris A. Davis & Michael G. Palumbo, 2001. "A primer on the economics and time series econometrics of wealth effects," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2001-09, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  10. Todd Sinai & Nicholas Souleles, 2007. "Net worth and housing equity in retirement," Working Papers 07-33, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  11. repec:crr:issbrf:ib2006-43 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Donald Cox & Tullio Japelli, 1993. "The Effect Of Borrowing Constraints On Consumer Liabilities," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 228, Boston College Department of Economics.
  13. Muellbauer, John & Murphy, Anthony, 1997. "Booms and Busts in the UK Housing Market," CEPR Discussion Papers 1615, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Alicia H. Munnell & Mauricio Soto, 2006. "What Replacement Rates Do Households Actually Experience In Retirement?," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2005-10, Center for Retirement Research.
  15. Engelhardt, Gary V., 1996. "House prices and home owner saving behavior," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3-4), pages 313-336, June.
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