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The Beveridge Curve in the Housing Market: Supply and Disequilibrium


  • Brian Peterson

    () (Indiana University Bloomington)


There is a long-run `Beveridge Curve' in the Housing market given by the negative relationship between the vacancy rate of housing and the rate of household formation. This is true in the owner-occupied market, the rental market, and the total market for housing irrespective of ownership status. The Beveridge Curve represents a long-run supply condition that can be explained by assuming that (1) the cost to produce a new house is decreasing in the growth rate of the housing stock and (2) the probability to sell a new house is decreasing in the vacancy rate. Short-run deviations from the Beveridge curve represent a measurement of oversupply. Using a years of supply metric, for the total housing market irrespective of ownership, in 2007-2008 there were 0.995 years of supply, more than three times the previous peak of 0.285 years of supply in 1973-1974. Comparing the rental market to the owner-occupied market, oversupply generally shows up in the rental market, not the owner-occupied market and the oversupply in the rental market is twice as volatile as oversupply in the owner-occupied market, implying that a large part of the market adjustment to housing supply occurs in the rental market. Interestingly two-thirds of the oversupply in 2007-2008 resided in the rental market as opposed to the owner-occupied market. Using FHFA data for house prices, 46% of the movements in oversupply in the owner-occupied market since 1975 can be explained by house price movements. The last result suggests that at short horizons (4-6 years) house prices are not determined by supply. Rather, house prices drive supply at short time horizons, permitting bubbles and oversupplies of housing to form.

Suggested Citation

  • Brian Peterson, 2009. "The Beveridge Curve in the Housing Market: Supply and Disequilibrium," Caepr Working Papers 2009-009, Center for Applied Economics and Policy Research, Economics Department, Indiana University Bloomington.
  • Handle: RePEc:inu:caeprp:2009-009

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