208 research outputs found

    Housing and the Financial Crisis

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    Net worth and housing equity in retirement

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    This paper documents the trends in the life-cycle profiles of net worth and housing equity between 1983 and 2004. The net worth of older households significantly increased during the housing boom of recent years. However, net worth grew by more than housing equity, in part because other assets also appreciated at the same time. Moreover, the younger elderly offset rising house prices by increasing their housing debt, and used some of the proceeds to invest in other assets. We also consider how much of their housing equity older households can actually tap, using reverse mortgages. This fraction is lower at younger ages, such that young retirees can consume less than half of their housing equity. These results imply that ‘consumable’ net worth is smaller than standard calculations of net worth. JEL Classification: G11, E2

    Network Effects, Congestion Externalities, and Air Traffic Delays: Or Why All Delays Are Not Evil

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    We examine two factors that might explain the extent of air traffic delays in the United States: network benefits due to hubbing and congestion externalities. Airline hubs enable passengers to cross-connect to many destinations, thus creating network benefits that increase in the number of markets served from the hub. Delays are the equilibrium outcome of a hub airline equating high marginal benefits from hubbing with the marginal cost of delays. Congestion externalities are created when airlines do not consider that adding flights may lead to increased delays for other air carriers. In this case, delays represent a market failure. Using data on all domestic flights by major US carriers from 1988-2000, we find that delays are increasing in hubbing activity at an airport and decreasing in market concentration but the hubbing effect dominates empirically. In addition, most delays due to hubbing actually accrue to the hub carrier, primarily because the hub carrier clusters its flights in short spans of time in order to maximize passenger interconnections. Non hub flights at hub airports operate with minimal additional travel time by avoiding the congested peak connecting times of the hub carrier. These results suggest that an optimal congestion tax would have a relatively small impact on air traffic delays since hub carriers already internalize most of the costs of hubbing and a tax that did not take the network benefits of hubbing into account could reduce social welfare.

    Net worth and housing equity in retirement

    Get PDF
    This paper documents the trends in the life-cycle profiles of net worth and housing equity between 1983 and 2004. The net worth of older households significantly increased during the housing boom of recent years. However, net worth grew by more than housing equity, in part because other assets also appreciated at the same time. Moreover, the younger elderly offset rising house prices by increasing their housing debt, and used some of the proceeds to invest in other assets. The authors also consider how much of their housing equity older households can actually tap, using reverse mortgages. This fraction is lower at younger ages, such that young retirees can consume less than half of their housing equity. These results imply that ‘consumable’ net worth is smaller than standard calculations of net worth.Retirement ; Housing

    The Spatial Distribution of Housing-Related Tax Benefits in the United States

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    Using 1990 Census tract-level data, we estimate how tax subsidies to owner-occupied housing are distributed spatially across the United States, calculating their value as the difference in taxes currently paid by home owners and the taxes owners would pay if there were no preference for investing in one's home relative to other assets. The $164 billion national tax subsidy is highly skewed spatially with a few areas receiving large subsidies and most areas receiving small ones. If the program were self-financed on a lump sum basis, less than 20 percent of states and 10 percent of metropolitan areas would have net positive subsidies. These few metropolitan areas are situated almost exclusively along the California coast and in the Northeast from Washington, DC to Boston. At the state level, California stands out because it receives 25 percent of the national aggregate subsidy flow while being home to only 10 percent of the country's owners. At the metropolitan area level, owners in just three large CMSAs receive over 75 percent of all positive net benefits. And within a number of the larger metropolitan areas, the top quarter of owners receives 70 percent or more of the total subsidy flowing to the metro area.

    Geography and the Internet: Is the Internet a Substitute or a Complement for Cities?

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    We study the tendency to connect to the Internet, and the online and offline shopping behavior of connected persons, to draw inferences about whether the Internet is a substitute or a complement for cities. We document that larger markets have more locally-targeted online content and that individuals are more likely to connect in markets with more local online content, suggesting the Internet is a complement to cities. Yet, holding local online content constant, people are less likely to connect in larger markets, indicating that the Internet is also a substitute for cities. We also find that individuals connect to overcome local isolation: notwithstanding a large digital divide, blacks are more likely to connect, relative to whites, when they comprise a smaller fraction of local population, making the Internet a substitute for agglomeration of preference minorities within cities. Finally, using online and offline spending data, we find that connected persons spend more on books and clothing online, relative to their offline spending, if they are farther from offline stores. This indicates that the Internet functions as a substitute for proximity to retail outlets.

    Net Worth and Housing Equity in Retirement

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    This paper documents the trends in the life-cycle profiles of net worth and housing equity between 1983 and 2004. The net worth of older households significantly increased during the housing boom of recent years. However, net worth grew by more than housing equity, in part because other assets also appreciated at the same time. Moreover, the younger elderly offset rising house prices by increasing their housing debt, and used some of the proceeds to invest in other assets. We also consider how much of their housing equity older households can actually tap, using reverse mortgages. This fraction is lower at younger ages, such that young retirees can consume less than half of their housing equity. These results imply that 'consumable' net worth is smaller than standard calculations of net worth.

    Owner-Occupied Housing as a Hedge Against Rent Risk

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    Many people assume that the most significant risk in the housing market is that homeowners are exposed to fluctuations in house values. However, homeownership also provides a hedge against fluctuations in future rent payments. This paper finds that, even though house price risk endogenously increases with rent risk, the latter empirically dominates for most households so housing market risk actually increases homeownership rates and house prices. Further, the net effect of rent risk on the demand for homeownership increases with a household's expected length of stay in its home, as the cumulative rent volatility rises and the discounted house price risk falls. Using CPS data, the difference in the probability of homeownership between households with long and short expected lengths of stay is 2.9 to 5.4 percentage points greater in high rent variance places than low rent variance places. The sensitivity to rent risk is greatest for households that devote a larger share of their budgets to housing, and thus face a bigger gamble. Similarly, the elderly who live in high rent variance places are more likely to own their own homes, and their probability of homeownership falls faster with age (as their horizon shortens). This aversion to rent risk might help explain why older households do not consume much of their housing wealth. Finally, we find that house prices capitalize not only expected future rents, but also the associated rent risk premia. At the MSA level, a one standard deviation increase in rent variance increases the house price-to-rent ratio by 2 to 4 percent.

    Owner-occupied housing as a hedge against rent risk

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    The conventional wisdom that homeownership is very risky ignores the fact that the alternative, renting, is also risky. Owning a house provides a hedge against fluctuations in housing costs, but in turn introduces asset price risk. In a simple model of tenure choice with endogenous house prices, the authors show that the net risk of owning declines with a household’s expected horizon in its house and with the correlation in housing costs in future locations. Empirically, they find that both house prices, relative to rents, and the probability of homeownership increase with net rent riskHousing ; Housing - Prices
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