NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Housing Inequality

David Albouy, Mike Zabek

NBER Working Paper No. 21916
Issued in January 2016
NBER Program(s):   LS   PE

Inequality in U.S. housing prices and rents both declined in the mid-20th century, even as home-ownership rates rose. Subsequently, housing-price inequality has risen to pre-War levels, while rent inequality has risen less. Combining both measures, we see inequality in housing consumption equivalents mirroring patterns in income across both space and time, according to an income elasticity of housing demand just below one. These patterns occur mainly within cities, and are not explained by observed changes in dwelling characteristics or locations. Instead, recent increases in housing inequality are driven most by changes in the relative value of locations, seen especially through land.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21916

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