NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Albert Saiz

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Working Papers

July 2008Housing Supply and Housing Bubbles
with Edward L. Glaeser, Joseph Gyourko: w14193
Like many other assets, housing prices are quite volatile relative to observable changes in fundamentals. If we are going to understand boom-bust housing cycles, we must incorporate housing supply. In this paper, we present a simple model of housing bubbles that predicts that places with more elastic housing supply have fewer and shorter bubbles, with smaller price increases. However, the welfare consequences of bubbles may actually be higher in more elastic places because those places will overbuild more in response to a bubble. The data show that the price run-ups of the 1980s were almost exclusively experienced in cities where housing supply is more inelastic. More elastic places had slightly larger increases in building during that period. Over the past five years, a modest numbe...
December 2003The Rise of the Skilled City
with Edward L. Glaeser: w10191
For more than a century, educated cities have grown more quickly than comparable cities with less human capital. This fact survives a battery of other control variables, metropolitan area fixed effects and tests for reverse causality. We also find that skilled cities are growing because they are becoming more economically productive (relative to less skilled cities), not because these cities are becoming more attractive places to live. Most surprisingly, we find evidence suggesting that the skills-city growth connection occurs mainly in declining areas and occurs in large part because skilled cities are better at adapting to economic shocks. As in Schultz (1964), skills appear to permit adaptation.
July 2000Consumer City
with Ed Glaeser, Jed Kolko: w7790
Urban economics has traditionally viewed cities as having advantages in production and disadvantages in consumption. We argue that the role of urban density in facilitating consumption is extremely important and understudied. As firms become more mobile, the success of cities hinges more and more on cities' role as centers of consumption. Empirically, we find that high amenity cities have grown faster than low amenity cities. Urban rents have gone up faster than urban wages, suggesting that the demand for living in cities has risen for reasons beyond rising wages. The rise of reverse commuting suggest the same consumer city phenomena.

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