Housing busts and household mobility
Using two decades of American Housing Survey data from 1985 to 2005, we estimate the influence of negative home equity and rising mortgage interest rates on household mobility. We find that both factors lead to lower, not higher, mobility rates over time. The effects are economically large -- mobility is almost 50 percent lower for owners with negative equity in their homes. This finding does not imply that current concerns over defaults and homeowners having to relocate are entirely misplaced. It does indicate that, in the past, the mortgage lock-in effects of these two factors were dominant ...
Inflation inequality in the United States
Inflation is often assumed to affect all people in the same way. In practice, differences in spending patterns across households and differences in price increases across goods and services lead to unequal levels of inflation for different households. In this paper, we measure the degree of inequality in inflation across U.S. households for the period 1987-2001. ; Our results suggest that the inflation experiences of U.S. households vary significantly. Most of the differences can be traced to changes in the relative prices of education, health care, and gasoline. We find that cost of living ...
Are Millennials Different?
The economic wellbeing of the millennial generation, which entered its working-age years around the time of the 2007-09 recession, has received considerable attention from economists and the popular press. This chapter compares the socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of millennials with those of earlier generations and compares their income, saving, and consumption expenditures. Relative to members of earlier generations, millennials are more racially diverse, more educated, and more likely to have deferred marriage; these comparisons are continuations of longer-run trends in the ...
Householder response to the earned income tax credit: path of sustenance or road to asset building
This study seeks to gain a more complete picture about how the Earned Income Tax Credit program influences consumer expenditure and saving decisions. Based on survey data collected from over 18,000 taxpayers participating at the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites administered by the Community Food Resource Center, a nonprofit organization in New York City, we find that a fairly large proportion of lower-income taxpayers expect to use the majority of their refund for the purpose of paying debt and other more immediate expenses. Even so, almost 11 percent of these taxpayers reported that ...
Negative effects of personal bankruptcy filing for homeowners: reduced credit access and lost option value
Focusing on home owners, the paper discusses the reduction in a household?s credit access due to bankruptcy filing and its two effects that may deter a household from filing for bankruptcy. Empirical evidence presented in the paper suggests that a household with a bankruptcy record is about 30% more likely to lose home ownership and consequently the mortgage loans captured in the house, compared to than a similar household without such a record. Since the household is forced to consume at a credit level below their desired level, this translates into an important deterrence effect for ...
Using home maintenance and repairs to smooth variable earnings
Recent research indicates that the marked increase in U.S. income inequality over the last twenty-five years has not been matched by a similar increase in consumption inequality. This paper examines the role of saving/dissaving in a house as a vehicle for consumption smoothing. Data from the American Housing Survey show that expenditures on home maintenance and repairs are economically significant, amounting to roughly $1,750 per household each year. This figure is comparable to the labor literature estimates that put households' average annual transitory income variance at about $2,200. Our ...
How worrisome is a negative saving rate?
The U.S. personal saving rate's negative turn in 2005 has raised concerns that Americans may have to curtail their spending and accept a lower standard of living as they pay off rising debts. However, a closer look at saving trends suggests that the risks to household well-being are overstated. The surge in energy costs may have temporarily dampened saving, while the accounting of household income from stock holdings may be skewing saving estimates. Moreover, broad measures of saving have remained positive, and household wealth is on the rise.>
Racial profiling or racist policing? bounds tests in aggregate data
State-wide reports on police traffic stops and searches summarize very large populations, making them potentially powerful tools for identifying racial bias, particularly when statistics on search outcomes are included. But when the reported statistics conflate searches involving different levels of police discretion, standard tests for racial bias are not applicable. This paper develops a model of police search decisions that allows for non-discretionary searches and derives tests for racial bias in data that mixes different search types. Our tests reject unbiased policing as an explanation ...
Households during the Great Recession: the financial accelerator in action?
Households are the sector that the financial accelerator appears to have hit hardest, according to the data.
Household wealth: has it recovered?
Adjusting for inflation, population growth, and a risk-free real interest rate shows there is still a substantial gap between the peak of household wealth in 2007 and the level today.