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Housing wealth and wage bargaining

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  • Chris Cunningham
  • Robert R. Reed

Abstract

We examine the relationship between housing equity and wage earnings. We first provide a simple model of wage bargaining where failure leads to both job loss and mortgage default. Moreover, foreclosure generates disutility beyond selling a home. We test this prediction using nine waves of the national American Housing Survey. Employing a rich set of time and place controls, individual fixed effects, and an instrumental variable strategy, we find that people with an underwater mortgage command a significantly lower wage than other homeowners. This finding survives a number of robustness checks. We also include other determinants of "house lock" such as a favorable mortgage interest rate relative to the current rate and a capped property tax assessment, but we do not find these factors lower earnings. We conclude that negative equity matters because default is unpleasant or costly, not because it precludes an out-of-state job search..

Suggested Citation

  • Chris Cunningham & Robert R. Reed, 2012. "Housing wealth and wage bargaining," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2012-20, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:2012-20
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    File URL: http://www.frbatlanta.org/documents/pubs/wp/wp1220.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ferreira, Fernando, 2010. "You can take it with you: Proposition 13 tax benefits, residential mobility, and willingness to pay for housing amenities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(9-10), pages 661-673, October.
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    4. Schulhofer-Wohl, Sam, 2012. "Negative equity does not reduce homeowners’ mobility," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Feb, pages 1-17.
    5. Atif Mian & Amir Sufi, 2009. "The Consequences of Mortgage Credit Expansion: Evidence from the U.S. Mortgage Default Crisis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1449-1496.
    6. Yongheng Deng & John M. Quigley & Robert Van Order, 2000. "Mortgage Terminations, Heterogeneity and the Exercise of Mortgage Options," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(2), pages 275-308, March.
    7. Fernando Ferreira & Joseph Gyourko & Joseph Tracy, 2012. "Housing busts and household mobility: an update," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Nov, pages 1-15.
    8. Quigley, John M, 1987. "Interest Rate Variations, Mortgage Prepayments and Household Mobility," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(4), pages 636-643, November.
    9. Ferreira, Fernando & Gyourko, Joseph & Tracy, Joseph, 2010. "Housing busts and household mobility," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 34-45, July.
    10. Foote, Christopher L. & Gerardi, Kristopher & Willen, Paul S., 2008. "Negative equity and foreclosure: Theory and evidence," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 234-245, September.
    11. Neil Bhutta & Jane K. Dokko & Hui Shan, 2010. "The depth of negative equity and mortgage default decisions," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2010-35, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    12. Engelhardt, Gary V., 2003. "Nominal loss aversion, housing equity constraints, and household mobility: evidence from the United States," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 171-195, January.
    13. Nada Wasi & Michelle J. White, 2005. "Property Tax Limitations and Mobility: The Lock-in Effect of California's Proposition 13," NBER Working Papers 11108, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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