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Why Has House Price Dispersion Gone Up?

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  • Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh
  • Pierre-Olivier Weill

Abstract

We investigate the 30 year increase in the level and dispersion of house prices across U.S. metropolitan areas in a calibrated dynamic general equilibrium island model. The model is based on two main assumptions: households flow in and out metropolitan areas in response to local wage shocks, and the housing supply cannot adjust instantly because of regulatory constraints. Feeding in our model the 30 year increase in cross-sectional wage dispersion that we document based on metropolitan-level data, we generate the observed increase in house price level and dispersion. In equilibrium, workers flow towards exceptionally productive metropolitan areas and drive house prices up. The calibration also reveals that, while a baseline level of regulation is important, a tightening of regulation by itself cannot account for the increase in house price level and dispersion: in equilibrium, workers flow out of tightly regulated towards less regulated metropolitan areas, undoing most of the price impact of additional local supply regulations. Finally, the calibration with increasing wage dispersion suggests that the welfare effects of housing supply regulation are large.

Suggested Citation

  • Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh & Pierre-Olivier Weill, 2006. "Why Has House Price Dispersion Gone Up?," NBER Working Papers 12538, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12538
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko, 2005. "Urban Decline and Durable Housing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(2), pages 345-375, April.
    2. Hanno Lustig & Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh, 2006. "Can Housing Collateral Explain Long-Run Swings in Asset Returns?," NBER Working Papers 12766, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • R13 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - General Equilibrium and Welfare Economic Analysis of Regional Economies

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