Applying Research to Policy Issues in Distressed Housing Markets: Data-Driven Decision Making
A compilation of research published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland on housing markets experiencing foreclosure and/or a large number of vacant properties which sheds light on a wide range of housing markets. It provides possible policy solutions applicable to both regional and national policy discussions.
AUTHORS: Fitzpatrick, Thomas J.; Ergungor, O. Emre; Whitaker, Stephan; Zenker, Mary; Fee, Kyle; Hartley, Daniel; Richter, Francisca; Seo, Youngme; Firschein, Joseph
Accounting for Central Neighborhood Change, 1980-2010
Neighborhoods within 2 km of most central business districts of U.S. metropolitan areas experienced population declines from 1980 to 2000 but have rebounded markedly since 2000 at greater pace than would be expected from simple mean reversion. Statistical decompositions reveal that 1980-2000 departures of residents without a college degree (of all races) generated most of the declines while the return of college educated whites and the stabilization of neighborhood choices by less educated whites promoted most of the post-2000 rebound. The rise of childless households and the increase in the share of the population with a college degree, conditional on race, also promoted 1980-2010 increases in central area population and educational composition of residents, respectively. Estimation of a neighborhood choice model shows that changes in choices to live in central neighborhoods primarily reflect a shifting balance between rising home prices and valuations of local amenities, though 1980-2000 central area population declines also reflect deteriorating nearby labor market opportunities for low skilled whites. Rising 1980-2000 central neighborhood home prices were about equally offset by rising amenity valuations among college educated whites; declining amenity valuations reinforced rising home prices to incentivize departures of other demographic groups from central neighborhoods during this period. Greater increases in amenity valuations after 2000 encouraged college educated whites to move in and other whites to remain but were not large enough to offset rising housing costs for minorities.
AUTHORS: Baum-Snow, Nathaniel; Hartley, Daniel
Weathering an Unexpected Financial Shock: The Role of Cash Grants on Household Finance and Business Survival
We estimate the causal effect of cash grants on household finance and business survival following a natural disaster. Disaster-affected individuals in high damage blocks with access to cash grants have 17% less credit card debt following the disaster than those without access to cash grants. Grants do not reduce negative financial outcomes, but do decrease migration. The grants play a role in mitigating the effects of the shock to businesses; resulting in 18% more establishments and 29% more employees post-disaster in disaster-affected neighborhoods where residents receive grants, relative to disaster-affected neighborhoods where they do not receive grants. These effects are concentrated among small non-manufacturing establishments that rely on local demand.
AUTHORS: Hartley, Daniel; Rohlin, Shawn M.; Gallagher, Justin
Neighborhood Choices, Neighborhood Effects and Housing Vouchers
We study how households choose neighborhoods, how neighborhoods affect child ability, and how housing vouchers influence neighborhood choices and child outcomes. We use two new panel data sets with tract-level detail for Los Angeles county to estimate a dynamic model of optimal tract-level location choice for renting households and, separately, the impact of living in a given tract on child test scores (which we call ?child ability" throughout). We simulate optimal location choices and changes in child ability of the poorest households in our sample under various housing-voucher policies. We demonstrate that a Moving-to-Opportunity type voucher, in which people residing in high poverty tracts are given a voucher to move to low-poverty tracts, does not affect child ability as households use the voucher to move to relatively inexpensive, low-impact neighborhoods. When vouchers are restricted such that they can only be applied in tracts with large effects on children, we demonstrate the total benefits of any voucher less than $700 per month exceed the costs and the voucher that maximizes total social surplus is $300 per month.
AUTHORS: Hartley, Daniel; Gregory, Jess; Davis, Morris A.; Tan, Kegon T. K.
The Long-Run Effects of Neighborhood Change on Incumbent Families
A number of prominent studies examine the long-run effects of neighborhood attributes on children by leveraging variation in neighborhood exposure through household moves. However, much neighborhood change comes in place rather than through moving. Using an urban economic geography model as a basis, this paper estimates the causal effects of changes in neighborhood attributes on long-run outcomes for incumbent children and households. For identification, we make use of quasi-random variation in 1990-2000 and 2000-2005 skill specific labor demand shocks hitting each residential metro area census tract in the U.S. Our results indicate that children in suburban neighborhoods with a one standard deviation greater increase in the share of resident adults with a college degree experienced a 0.4 to 0.7 standard deviation improvement in credit outcomes 12-17 years later. Since parental outcomes are not affected, we interpret these results as operating through neighborhood effects. Finally, we provide evidence that most of the estimated effects operate through public schools.
AUTHORS: Baum-Snow, Nathaniel; Hartley, Daniel; Kwan Ok , Lee
The Effects of the 1930s HOLC \\"Redlining\\" Maps
In the wake of the Great Depression, the Federal government created new institutions such as the Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC) to stabilize housing markets. As part of that effort, the HOLC created residential security maps for over 200 cities to grade the riskiness of lending to neighborhoods. We trace out the effects of these maps over the course of the 20th and into the early 21st century by linking geocoded HOLC maps to both Census and modern credit bureau data. Our analysis looks at the difference in outcomes between residents living on a lower graded side versus a higher graded side of an HOLC boundary within highly close proximity to one another. We compare these differences to counterfactual boundaries using propensity score and other weighting procedures. In addition, we exploit borders that are least likely to have been endogenously drawn. We find that areas that were the lower graded side of HOLC boundaries in the 1930s experienced a marked increase in racial segregation in subsequent decades that peaked around 1970 before beginning to decline. We also find evidence of a long-run decline in home ownership, house values, and credit scores along the lower graded side of HOLC borders that persists today. We document similar long-run patterns among both redlined and non-redlined neighborhoods and, in some important outcomes, show larger and more lasting effects among the latter. Our results provide strongly suggestive evidence that the HOLC maps had a causal and persistent effect on the development of neighborhoods through credit access.
AUTHORS: Mazumder, Bhashkar; Hartley, Daniel; Aaronson, Daniel
What Explains the Decline in Life Insurance Ownership?
Life insurance ownership has declined markedly over the past 30 years, continuing a trend that began as early as 1960. In 1989, 77 percent of households owned life insurance (see figure 1). By 2013, that share had fallen to 60 percent. This article analyzes factors that might have contributed to the decline in life insurance ownership from 1989 to 2013. The focus of our analysis is on two broad sources of potential change in the demand for life insurance: changes in the socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of the population and changes in how those same characteristics are associated with the decision to purchase life insurance. In addition, we highlight the considerable diversity in life insurance ownership across education, income, and race and ethnicity and describe how trends in life insurance ownership vary across these groups.
AUTHORS: Hartley, Daniel; Paulson, Anna L.; Powers, Katerina
Flooding and Finances: Hurricane Harvey’s Impact on Consumer Credit
This article examines consumers? borrowing behavior and debt levels in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. We find that high levels of flooding from Harvey were associated with modest increases in auto loan balances, but moderate decreases in mortgage balances. In general, the storm did not hurt consumers? credit access according to the limited measures we investigate. These results are influenced by a number of factors, including federal disaster assistance, insurance payouts, and creditors permitting temporary postponements in loan payments, with such delays not being reported to credit bureaus.
AUTHORS: Packis, Eleni; Weintraut, Ben; Hartley, Daniel
How Similar Are Credit Scores Across Generations?
With the rise in economic inequality in the United States in recent decades, there has been growing concern about whether there is a sufficient degree of equality of opportunity in our society. Policymakers and researchers alike often focus on studies of intergenerational mobility as a way of assessing opportunity. These studies typically analyze distinct aspects of socioeconomic status, such as income, education, occupational status, and health, and measure the association in these outcomes between parents and their adult children.1 If the association (level of similarity) is very high, then this may indicate that there is low mobility and relatively little opportunity for poor children to overcome their initial economic disadvantage.
AUTHORS: Rajan, Aastha; Mazumder, Bhashkar; Hartley, Daniel
Measuring Interest Rate Risk in the Life Insurance Sector: The U.S. and the U.K.
We use a two factor model of life insurer stock returns to measure interest rate risk at U.S. and U.K. insurers. Our estimates show that interest rate risk among U.S. life insurers increased as interest rates decreased to historically low levels in recent years. For life insurers in the U.K., in contrast, interest rate risk remained low during this time, roughly unchanged from what it was in the period prior to the financial crisis when long-term interest rates were in their usual historical ranges. We attribute these differences to the heavier use of products that combine guarantees with options for policyholders to adjust their behavior by U.S. life insurers relative to their U.K. counterparts.
AUTHORS: Hartley, Daniel; Paulson, Anna L.; Rosen, Richard J.