The McMansion Effect: Positional Externalities in U.S. Suburbs

59 Pages Posted: 15 May 2019 Last revised: 17 May 2024

See all articles by Clement Bellet

Clement Bellet

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 25, 2019


This paper examines how the construction of very large homes — or "McMansions" — in U.S. suburbs affects homeowners' satisfaction and housing behavior. Combining three decades of survey data with geolocated information on three million suburban houses, I find that homeowners exposed to newly constructed, large houses report lower satisfaction with their own homes, while their neighborhood satisfaction remains unaffected. This effect is contingent on the visual salience of McMansions, as indicated by their proximity to roads. Homeowners exposed to new-built McMansions are more likely to expand their own homes and take on more debt. (D12, R21, Z13, I31, E70)

Keywords: Positional Goods, Relative Consumption, Housing, Subjective Wellbeing, Inequality

JEL Classification: D12, Z13, I31

Suggested Citation

Bellet, Clement, The McMansion Effect: Positional Externalities in U.S. Suburbs (April 25, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Clement Bellet (Contact Author)

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) ( email )

Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
3000 DR Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland 3062PA

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