NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

How Large Is the Housing Wealth Effect? A New Approach

Christopher D. Carroll, Misuzu Otsuka, Jirka Slacalek

NBER Working Paper No. 12746
Issued in December 2006
NBER Program(s):   AP   EFG   ME

This paper presents a simple new method for estimating the size of 'wealth effects' on aggregate consumption. The method exploits the well-documented sluggishness of consumption growth (often interpreted as 'habits' in the asset pricing literature) to distinguish between short-run and long-run wealth effects. In U.S. data, we estimate that the immediate (next-quarter) marginal propensity to consume from a $1 change in housing wealth is about 2 cents, with a final long-run effect around 9 cents. Consistent with several recent studies, we find a housing wealth effect that is substantially larger than the stock wealth effect. We believe that our approach is preferable to the currently popular cointegration- based estimation methods, because neither theory nor evidence justifies faith in the existence of a stable cointegrating vector.

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A data appendix is available at http://www.nber.org/data-appendix/w12746

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w12746

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