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House Price Volatility and the Housing Ladder


  • Banks, James

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies, London)

  • Blundell, Richard

    () (University College London)

  • Oldfield, Zoë

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies, London)

  • Smith, James P.

    () (RAND)


This paper investigates the effects of housing price risk on housing choices over the life-cycle. Housing price risk can be substantial but, unlike other risky assets which people can avoid, the fact that most people will eventually own their home creates an insurance demand for housing assets early in life. Our contribution is to focus on the importance of home ownership and housing wealth as a hedge against future house price risk for individuals moving up the ladder – people living in places with higher housing price risk should own their first home at a younger age, should live in larger homes, and should be less likely to refinance. These predictions are tested and shown to hold using panel data from the United States and Great Britain.

Suggested Citation

  • Banks, James & Blundell, Richard & Oldfield, Zoë & Smith, James P., 2010. "House Price Volatility and the Housing Ladder," IZA Discussion Papers 5173, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5173

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Todd Sinai & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2005. "Owner-Occupied Housing as a Hedge Against Rent Risk," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 763-789.
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    5. Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 2004. "Aging and Housing Equity: Another Look," NBER Chapters,in: Perspectives on the Economics of Aging, pages 127-180 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Louise Sheiner & David N. Weil, 1992. "The Housing Wealth of the Aged," NBER Working Papers 4115, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Martin Browning & Annamaria Lusardi, 1996. "Household Saving: Micro Theories and Micro Facts," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(4), pages 1797-1855, December.
    8. Kul B. Bhatia, 1987. "Real Estate Assets and Consumer Spending," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(2), pages 437-444.
    9. Brueckner, Jan K, 1997. "Consumption and Investment Motives and the Portfolio Choices of Homeowners," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 159-180, October.
    10. Merlo, Antonio & Ortalo-Magne, Francois, 2004. "Bargaining over residential real estate: evidence from England," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 192-216, September.
    11. Engelhardt, Gary V, 1996. "Consumption, Down Payments, and Liquidity Constraints," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 28(2), pages 255-271, May.
    12. 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.
    13. James Banks & Richard Blundell & Zöe Oldfield & James P. Smith, 2012. "Housing Mobility and Downsizing at Older Ages in Britain and the USA," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 79(313), pages 1-26, January.
    14. Marjorie Flavin & Takashi Yamashita, 2002. "Owner-Occupied Housing and the Composition of the Household Portfolio," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 345-362, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Philippe Bracke, 2015. "House Prices and Rents: Microevidence from a Matched Data Set in Central London," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 43(2), pages 403-431, June.
    2. Jan Rouwendal, 2009. "Housing Wealth and Household Portfolios in an Ageing Society," De Economist, Springer, vol. 157(1), pages 1-48, March.
    3. Dröes, Martijn I. & Hassink, Wolter H.J., 2013. "House price risk and the hedging benefits of home ownership," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 92-99.
    4. Maria Chiuri & Tullio Jappelli, 2010. "Do the elderly reduce housing equity? An international comparison," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 23(2), pages 643-663, March.
    5. repec:esx:essedp:718 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:esx:essedp:712 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Halket, Jonathan R & Vasudev, Santhanagopalan, 2012. "Home Ownership, Savings, and Mobility Over The Life Cycle," Economics Discussion Papers 2876, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
    8. João Ejarque & Søren Leth-Petersen, 2008. "Consumption and Savings of First Time House Owners: How Do They Deal with Adverse Income Shocks?," CAM Working Papers 2008-08, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Applied Microeconometrics.
    9. Amior, Michael & Halket, Jonathan R, 2012. "Do Households Use Homeownership To Insure Themselves? Evidence Across U.S. Cities," Economics Discussion Papers 8963, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
    10. Viola Angelini & Agar Brugiavini & Guglielmo Weber, 2014. "The dynamics of homeownership among the 50+ in Europe," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 27(3), pages 797-823, July.
    11. John Gathergood & Joerg Weber, 2015. "Is Poor Financial Literacy a Barrier to Home Ownership?," Discussion Papers 2015/16, University of Nottingham, Centre for Finance, Credit and Macroeconomics (CFCM).
    12. Olympia Bover, 2010. "Housing purchases and the dynamics of housing wealth," Working Papers 1036, Banco de España;Working Papers Homepage.
    13. Jonathan Halket & Santhanagopalan Vasudev, 2014. "Saving Up or Settling Down: Home Ownership over the Life Cycle," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 17(2), pages 345-366, April.
    14. Ebner, André, 2013. "A micro view on home equity withdrawal and its determinants: Evidence from Dutch households," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 321-337.
    15. Manuela Deidda, 2015. "Economic Hardship, Housing Cost Burden and Tenure Status: Evidence from EU-SILC," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 36(4), pages 531-556, December.
    16. Philippe Bracke, 2013. "House Prices and Rents: Micro Evidence from a Matched Dataset in Central London_x0003_," ERSA conference papers ersa13p112, European Regional Science Association.
    17. repec:eee:juecon:v:99:y:2017:i:c:p:62-78 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Andrew Benito, 2007. "Housing equity as a buffer: evidence from UK households," Bank of England working papers 324, Bank of England.
    19. Laura Blow & Lars Nesheim, 2009. "Dynamic housing expenditures and household welfare," CeMMAP working papers CWP04/09, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    20. Päivi Kankaanranta, 2006. "Consumption Over the Life Cycle: A Selected Literature Review," Discussion Papers 7, Aboa Centre for Economics.

    More about this item


    migration; downsizing;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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