Non-Durable Consumption and Housing Net Worth in the Great Recession: Evidence from Easily Accessible Data
21 Pages Posted: 9 May 2016
Date Written: May 2016
In an influential paper, Mian, Rao and Sufi (2013) exploit geographic variation in housing supply elasticities to measure the effect of changes in the housing share of net worth on total household expenditures during the Great Recession. Their widely-cited estimates are based on proprietary house price data, and use new vehicle registrations as the main proxy for total spending. We revisit their study using different, publicly available data on house prices, and an easily-accessible proxy for expenditures in non-durable goods. We re-affirm their findings in our data, and refine their analysis in several dimensions: (i) we separate the roles of falling house prices and initial leverage; (ii) we distinguish the effects on real consumption versus nominal expenditures; and (iii) we infer the implied elasticity of total non-durable expenditures in goods and services to housing net worth.
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