Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Teenage achievement and the house price bubble

The general economic context of where and when you grow up matters. Think, for example, of those raised during the Great Depression in the US or World War II in Europe who are likely to be very careful with their spending, never through anything away and finish their plates. In this regard, what should we expect from those reaching adulthood in the past years?

Daniel Cooper and María José Luengo-Prado study the impact on teenagers of the house price boom before the current crisis in the United States on educational outcomes. Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), they find that a 1% higher house price at age 17 leads to a 0.8% higher income as adult if the parents owned the home, 1.2% lower if they were tenants, after conditioning for socio-economic characteristics. These are big numbers. They can be justified by the observation that higher house prices allows more collateral to borrow for education. Indeed households with a below median non-housing wealth saw even a 1.6% boost in their child's future income. To explain the impact on tenants, I suppose one can explain it with higher tuition in reaction to larger loans, which tenants cannot afford as well.

The consequences from the recent house price crash are daunting in this context. And given that state are disengaging themselves from financing their public colleges, leading to even higher tuition, the outlook is even worse.

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