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Are workers compensated by cheaper housing in regions where unemployment is high? Theory and evidence from a housing demand survey

  • Wouter Vermeulen

    ()

  • Jos Van Ommeren

    ()

The empirical wage curve literature has demonstrated that workers in high-unemployment regions earn less. At the same time, many labour markets, especially in Europe, are characterised by persistent regional unemployment differentials and a low interregional labour mobility rate. It is argued in this paper that workers in high-unemployment regions are compensated in the housing market, which discourages migration to low-unemployment regions. We derive a multiregional efficiency wage model allowing for endogenous land prices, and therefore house prices, as well as endogenous lot sizes. It is shown that in high-unemployment regions, land prices are lower and lot sizes are larger. Therefore, aggregate regional house price data misrepresent the compensating differential. Employing a Dutch housing demand survey, we show that attribute corrected house prices and rents are 10.4 respectively 2.4 percent lower when regional unemployment is one percent higher.

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Paper provided by European Regional Science Association in its series ERSA conference papers with number ersa05p204.

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Date of creation: Aug 2005
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Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa05p204
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  1. David Card, 1995. "The Wage Curve: A Review," Working Papers 722, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  2. Layard, Richard & Nickell, Stephen & Jackman, Richard, 1991. "Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198284345, March.
  3. Olivier J. Blanchard & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "Hysteresis and the European Unemployment Problem," Working papers 427, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  4. Jackman, Richard & Savouri, Savvas, 1992. "Regional Migration in Britain: An Analysis of Gross Flows Using NHS Central Register Data," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(415), pages 1433-50, November.
  5. Gavin Cameron & John Muellbauer, 2001. "Earnings, unemployment, and housing in Britain," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(3), pages 203-220.
  6. Cameron, Gavin & Muellbauer, John, 1998. "The Housing Market and Regional Commuting and Migration Choices," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 45(4), pages 420-46, September.
  7. Ermisch, J. F. & Findlay, J. & Gibb, K., 1996. "The Price Elasticity of Housing Demand in Britain: Issues of Sample Selection," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 64-86, March.
  8. Bover, Olympia & Muellbauer, John & Murphy, Anthony, 1989. "Housing, Wages and UK Labour Markets," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 51(2), pages 97-136, March.
  9. Hanushek, Eric A & Quigley, John M, 1980. "What Is the Price Elasticity of Housing Demand?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 62(3), pages 449-54, August.
  10. DiPasquale, Denise & Somerville, C. Tsuriel, 1995. "Do House Price Indices Based on Transacting Units Represent the Entire Stock? Evidence from the American Housing Survey," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 195-229, September.
  11. Hughes, Gordon & McCormick, Barry & McCormick, Barry, 1987. "Housing markets, unemployment and labour market flexibility in the UK," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 615-641, April.
  12. Decressin, Jörg & Fatás, Antonio, 1994. "Regional Labour Market Dynamics in Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 1085, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. McCormick, Barry, 1997. "Regional unemployment and labour mobility in the UK," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(3-5), pages 581-589, April.
  14. Baltagi, Badi H. & Blien, Uwe, 1998. "The German wage curve: evidence from the IAB employment sample," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 135-142, November.
  15. Stephen Nickell, 1997. "Unemployment and Labor Market Rigidities: Europe versus North America," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 55-74, Summer.
  16. Harris, John R & Todaro, Michael P, 1970. "Migration, Unemployment & Development: A Two-Sector Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(1), pages 126-42, March.
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