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Public School Quality Valuation Over the Business Cycle


  • Stuart Gabriel
  • Owen Hearey
  • Matthew E. Kahn
  • Ryan K. Vaughn


Over the years 2000 to 2013, the Los Angeles real estate market featured a boom, a bust, and then another boom. We use this variation to test how the hedonic valuation of school quality varies over the business cycle. Following Black (1999), we exploit a regression discontinuity design at elementary school attendance boundaries to test for how the implicit price of school quality changes. We find that the capitalization of school quality is counter-cyclical. While good schools always command a price premium, this premium grows during the bust. Possible mechanisms for these findings include consumers "trading down" from private to public schools during contractions as well as the effects of reduced household mobility during downturns in raising the value of the public school option.

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  • Stuart Gabriel & Owen Hearey & Matthew E. Kahn & Ryan K. Vaughn, 2016. "Public School Quality Valuation Over the Business Cycle," NBER Working Papers 22668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22668
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Christopher Avery & Parag A. Pathak, 2015. "The Distributional Consequences of Public School Choice," NBER Working Papers 21525, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Charles T. Clotfelter & Helen F. Ladd & Jacob L. Vigdor, 2011. "Teacher Mobility, School Segregation, and Pay-Based Policies to Level the Playing Field," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 6(3), pages 399-438, July.
    3. Kelly C. Bishop & Alvin D. Murphy, 2019. "Valuing Time-Varying Attributes Using the Hedonic Model: When Is a Dynamic Approach Necessary?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 101(1), pages 134-145, March.
    4. Hilber, Christian A.L. & Mayer, Christopher, 2009. "Why do households without children support local public schools? Linking house price capitalization to school spending," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 74-90, January.
    5. Jaimovich, Nir & Rebelo, Sergio & Wong, Arlene, 2019. "Trading down and the business cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 96-121.
    6. Veronica Guerrieri & Daniel Hartley & Erik Hurst, 2012. "Within-City Variation in Urban Decline: The Case of Detroit," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(3), pages 120-126, May.
    7. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2003. "The Rising Price of Nonmarket Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 227-232, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Amine Ouazad & Romain Rancière, 2019. "Market Frictions, Arbitrage, and the Capitalization of Amenities," NBER Working Papers 25701, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Jee W. Hwang & Chun Kuang & Okmyung Bin, 2019. "Are all Homeowners Willing to Pay for Better Schools? ─ Evidence from a Finite Mixture Model Approach," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 58(4), pages 638-655, May.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • R21 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Housing Demand
    • R3 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location

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