Self-Assessed Financial Literacy in Housing Markets
47 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2019
Date Written: May 31, 2019
This paper introduces a novel dimension of household heterogeneity that plays an important role in housing markets. Households who self-assess themselves to be more financially literate are 1) more likely to own a house and 2) take on higher leverage on their home. We solve a heterogeneous agent portfolio choice model to infer the role of mortgage terms and of expectations on future house prices for the empirical patterns. We find that households with higher levels of self-assessed financial literacy are in fact better at the parts of the transaction that are relevant to them, namely access to more accommodating mortgage terms when they are young and better risk-return trade-offs when they are old. Moreover, by ignoring heterogeneity in financial literacy, standard models introduce quantitatively substantial biases in evaluating housing market policies. Housing demand elasticity with respect to wealth is downsized by approximately 40% when taking financial literacy into account.
JEL Classification: E21, R21, G02
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