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House Prices and Home Owner Saving Behavior

  • Gary V. Engelhardt
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    This paper examines the empirical link between house price appreciation and the savings behavior of home owners during the 1980s. The analysis uses household asset and debt data for a sample of under age sixty-five home owning households from the 1984 and 1989 waves of the PSID to construct changes in real household wealth as a measure of household saving behavior. Cross-time and cross-regional variation in housing market conditions are used to identify behavior savings effects. The empirical analysis suggests that the estimated marginal propensity to consume out of real housing capital gains is 0.03 for the median saver household. However, there is an asymmetry in the saving response to both total and unanticipated real housing capital gains. All of the savings offset comes from households that experience real housing capital losses. Households that experience real gains do not change their saving behavior. The existence of this asymmetry casts doubt on the power of changes in house prices to explain the time series path of saving in the U.S.

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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5183.

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    Date of creation: Jul 1995
    Date of revision:
    Publication status: published as Regional Science & Urban Economics, vol. 26, no. 3-4, pp. 313-336, June 1996
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5183
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
    Phone: 617-868-3900
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    1. René Garcia & Serena Ng & Annamaria Lusardi, 1995. "Excess Sensitivity and Asymmetries in Consumption: An Empirical Investigation," CIRANO Working Papers 95s-09, CIRANO.
    2. Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Saving, Fungibility, and Mental Accounts," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 193-205, Winter.
    3. Case, Karl E. & Mayer, Christopher J., 1996. "Housing price dynamics within a metropolitan area," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3-4), pages 387-407, June.
    4. Hilary Williamson Hoynes & Daniel McFadden, 1994. "The Impact of Demographics on Housing and Non-Housing Wealth in the United States," NBER Working Papers 4666, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Peek, Joe, 1983. "Capital Gains and Personal Saving Behavior," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 15(1), pages 1-23, February.
    6. Bhatia, Kul B, 1987. "Real Estate Assets and Consumer Spending," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(2), pages 437-44, May.
    7. Christopher J. Mayer, 1993. "Taxes, income distribution, and the real estate cycle: why all houses do not appreciate at the same rate," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue May, pages 39-50.
    8. Skinner, Jonathan, 1987. "A superior measure of consumption from the panel study of income dynamics," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 213-216.
    9. Barry Bosworth & Gary Burtless & John Sabelhaus, 1991. "The Decline in Saving: Some Microeconomic Evidence," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(1), pages 183-256.
    10. Gary V. Engelhardt & Christopher J. Mayer, 1994. "Gifts for home purchase and housing market behavior," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue May, pages 47-58.
    11. Nakagami, Yasuhiro & Pereira, Alfredo M., 1991. "Housing appreciation, mortgage interest rates, and homeowner mobility," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 271-292, November.
    12. Venti, Steven F. & Wise, David A., 1984. "Moving and housing expenditure: Transaction costs and disequilibrium," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(1-2), pages 207-243.
    13. Sheiner Louise, 1995. "Housing Prices and the Savings of Renters," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 94-125, July.
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