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Housing Wealth, Credit Conditions and Consumption

  • Janine Aron
  • John Muellbauer

There is widespread disagreement about the role of housing wealth in explaining consumption. Much of the empirical literature is marred by poor controls for the common drivers both of house prices and consumption, including income, income growth expectations, interest rates, credit supply conditions, other assets and indicators of income uncertainty (such as changes in the unemployment rate). For instance, while the easing of credit supply conditions is usually followed by a house price boom, failure to control for the direct effect of credit liberalization on consumption can over-estimate the effect of housing wealth or collateral on consumption. This paper suggests an empirical model grounded in theory with more complete controls than hitherto used. It is applied to modeling consumption in the UK and South Africa. Both countries experienced substantial credit market liberalization and rising consumption to income ratios. However, South Africa.s circumstances in the 1980s prevented an asset price boom, thus allowing the illumination of the direct role of credit liberalization. The paper incorporates methodological improvements in the measurement of credit conditions, and also clarifies the multi-faceted effects of credit liberalization on consumption.

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Paper provided by Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford in its series CSAE Working Paper Series with number 2006-08.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2006-08
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