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Status Competition and Housing Prices

  • Shang-Jin Wei
  • Xiaobo Zhang
  • Yin Liu

While in standard housing economics housing is regarded as an asset and a consumption good, we study in this paper the consequences for housing prices if housing is also a status good. More concretely, if a family's housing wealth relative to others is an important marker for relative status in the marriage market, then competition for marriage partners might motivate people to pursue a bigger and more expensive house/apartment beyond its direct consumption (and financial investment) value. To test the empirical validity of the hypothesis, we have to overcome the usual difficulty of not being able to observe the intensity of status competition. Our innovation is to explore regional variations in the sex ratio for the pre-marital age cohort across China, which likely has triggered variations in the intensity of competition in the marriage market. The empirical evidence appears to support this hypothesis. We estimate that due to the status good feature of housing, a rise in the sex ratio accounts for 30-48% of the rise in real urban housing prices in China during 2003-2009.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18000.

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Date of creation: Apr 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18000
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  1. Lena Edlund & Hongbin Li & Junjian Yi & Junsen Zhang, 2013. "Sex Ratios and Crime: Evidence from China," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(5), pages 1520-1534, December.
  2. Du, Qingyuang & Wei, Shang-Jin, 2012. "A Darwinian Perspective on "Exchange Rate Undervaluation"," CEPR Discussion Papers 8872, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Lena Edlund & Chulhee Lee, 2009. "Son Preference, Sex Selection and Economic Development: Theory and Evidence from South Korea," Discussion Papers 0910-04, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  4. Erwin Bulte & Nico Heerink & Xiaobo Zhang, 2011. "China's One‐Child Policy and ‘the Mystery of Missing Women’: Ethnic Minorities and Male‐Biased Sex Ratios," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 73(1), pages 21-39, 02.
  5. Ed Hopkins & Tatiana Kornienko, 2004. "Running to Keep in the Same Place: Consumer Choice as a Game of Status," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1085-1107, September.
  6. Nancy Qian, 2008. "Missing Women and the Price of Tea in China: The Effect of Sex-Specific Earnings on Sex Imbalance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(3), pages 1251-1285, August.
  7. Hongbin LI & Hui ZHENG, 2009. "Ultrasonography and Sex Ratios in China," Asian Economic Policy Review, Japan Center for Economic Research, vol. 4(1), pages 121-137.
  8. Shang-Jin Wei & Xiaobo Zhang, 2011. "Sex Ratios, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Growth in the People's Republic of China," NBER Working Papers 16800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Harding, John P. & Rosenthal, Stuart S. & Sirmans, C.F., 2007. "Depreciation of housing capital, maintenance, and house price inflation: Estimates from a repeat sales model," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 193-217, March.
  10. Ming-Jen Lin & Ming-Ching Luoh, 2008. "Can Hepatitis B Mothers Account for the Number of Missing Women? Evidence from Three Million Newborns in Taiwan," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 2259-73, December.
  11. Mu, Ren & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2011. "Why does the Great Chinese Famine affect the male and female survivors differently? Mortality selection versus son preference," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 92-105, January.
  12. Hongbin Li & Zheyu Yang & Xianguo Yao & Junsen Zhang, 2009. "Entrepreneurship and Growth: Evidence from China," Discussion Papers 00022, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Department of Economics.
  13. Deng, Yongheng & Morck, Randall & Wu, Jing & Yeung, Bernard, 2011. "Monetary and Fiscal Stimuli, Ownership Structure, and China's Housing Market," Ratio Working Papers 173, The Ratio Institute.
  14. Edlund, Lena & Li, Hongbin & Yi, Junjian & Zhang, Junsen, 2007. "Sex Ratios and Crime: Evidence from China’s One-Child Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 3214, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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