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Negative Equity Does Not Reduce Homeowners' Mobility


  • Sam Schulhofer-Wohl


Some commentators have argued that the housing crisis may harm labor markets because homeowners who owe more than their homes are worth are less likely to move to places that have productive job opportunities. I show that, in the available data, negative equity does not make homeowners less mobile. In fact, homeowners who have negative equity are slightly more likely to move than homeowners who have positive equity. Ferreira, Gyourko and Tracy's (2010) contrasting result that negative equity reduces mobility arises because they systematically drop some negative-equity homeowners' moves from the data.

Suggested Citation

  • Sam Schulhofer-Wohl, 2011. "Negative Equity Does Not Reduce Homeowners' Mobility," NBER Working Papers 16701, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16701
    Note: EFG PE

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Aigner, Dennis J., 1973. "Regression with a binary independent variable subject to errors of observation," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 49-59, March.
    2. Chan, Sewin, 2001. "Spatial Lock-in: Do Falling House Prices Constrain Residential Mobility?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 567-586, May.
    3. Andra C. Ghent & Marianna Kudlyak, 2010. "Recourse and residential mortgage default: theory and evidence from U.S. states," Working Paper 09-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
    4. Daniel Aaronson & Jonathan Davis, 2011. "How much has house lock affected labor mobility and the unemployment rate?," Chicago Fed Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Sep.
    5. Ferreira, Fernando & Gyourko, Joseph & Tracy, Joseph, 2010. "Housing busts and household mobility," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 34-45, July.
    6. 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.
    7. Andrew F. Haughwout & Richard Peach & Joseph Tracy, 2010. "The homeownership gap," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 16(May).
    8. 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.
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    JEL classification:

    • R21 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Housing Demand
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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