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Rents have been rising, not falling, in the postwar period

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  • Bridget Cronin
  • Leonard I. Nakamura
  • Richard Voith

Abstract

Until the end of 1977, the U.S. consumer price index for rents tended to omit rent increases when units had a change of tenants or were vacant, biasing inflation estimates downward. Beginning in 1978, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) implemented a series of methodological changes that reduced this nonresponse bias, but substantial bias remained until 1985. The authors set up a model of nonresponse bias, parameterize it, and test it using a BLS microdata set for rents. From 1940 to 1985, the official BLS CPI-W price index for tenant rents rose 3.6 percent annually; the authors argue that it should have risen 5.0 percent annually. Rents in 1940 should be only half as much as their official relative price; this has important consequences for historical measures of rent-house-price ratios and for the growth of real consumption. (Revision forthcoming in Review of Economics and Statistics.)

Suggested Citation

  • Bridget Cronin & Leonard I. Nakamura & Richard Voith, 2008. "Rents have been rising, not falling, in the postwar period," Working Papers 08-28, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:08-28
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Theodore M. Crone & Leonard I. Nakamura & Richard Voith, 2001. "Measuring American rents: a revisionist history," Working Papers 01-8, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    2. Perron, Pierre & Rodriguez, Gabriel, 2003. "GLS detrending, efficient unit root tests and structural change," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 115(1), pages 1-27, July.
    3. Ariel Pakes, 2003. "A Reconsideration of Hedonic Price Indexes with an Application to PC's," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1578-1596, December.
    4. David Genesove, 2003. "The Nominal Rigidity of Apartment Rents," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 844-853, November.
    5. Joshua H. Gallin, 2004. "The long-run relationship between house prices and rents," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-50, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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    Cited by:

    1. Garner, Thesia I. & Verbrugge, Randal, 2009. "Reconciling user costs and rental equivalence: Evidence from the US consumer expenditure survey," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 172-192, September.
    2. Leonard Nakamura, 2014. "Durable Financial Regulation: Monitoring Financial Instruments as a Counterpart to Regulating Financial Institutions," NBER Chapters,in: Measuring Wealth and Financial Intermediation and Their Links to the Real Economy, pages 67-88 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Randal Verbrugge, 2008. "The Puzzling Divergence Of Rents And User Costs, 1980-2004," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 54(4), pages 671-699, December.
    4. Marianna Kudlyak, 2012. "Housing services price inflation," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue 3Q, pages 185-207.
    5. Miao, Jianjun & Wang, Pengfei & Zha, Tao, 2014. "Liquidity Premia, Price-Rent Dynamics, and Business Cycles," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2014-15, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    6. Ambrose, Brent W. & Coulson, N. Edward & Yoshida, Jiro, 2017. "Inflation Rates Are Very Different When Housing Rents Are Accurately Measured," HIT-REFINED Working Paper Series 71, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    7. repec:bla:reesec:v:45:y:2017:i:3:p:591-627 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Makoto Nakajima, 2011. "Understanding house-price dynamics," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Q2, pages 20-28.
    9. Robert Poole & Randal Verbrugge, 2007. "Explaining the Rent-OER Inflation Divergence, 1999-2006," Working Papers 410, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
    10. W. Erwin Diewert & Alice O. Nakamura, 2009. "Accounting for housing in a CPI," Working Papers 09-4, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    11. Randal Verbrugge & Alan Dorfman & William Johnson & Fred Marsh III & Robert Poole & Owen Shoemaker, 2017. "Determinants of Differential Rent Changes: Mean Reversion versus the Usual Suspects," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 45(3), pages 591-627, July.
    12. repec:fip:fedpwp:13-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Joshua Gallin & Randal Verbrugge, 2007. "Improving the CPI’s Age-Bias Adjustment: Leverage, Disaggregation and Model Averaging," Working Papers 411, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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    Rent;

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