Distributional Effects of Surging Housing Costs under Schwabe's Law by Thomas Steger, Leipzig University.
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Seminar language: English.
The upward sloping trend of rents and house prices has initiated a debate on the consequences of surging housing costs for wealth inequality and welfare. We employ a frictionless two-sectoral macroeconomic model with a housing sector to investigate the dynamics of wealth inequality and the determinants of welfare. Households have non-homothetic preferences, implying that the poor choose a higher housing expenditure share, which is compatible with Schwabe's Law. We first examine the isolated effects of increasing housing costs in partial equilibrium. The model is closed by introducing a production sector that enables us to analyze the general equilibrium consequences of a widely discussed policy option, which aims at dampening the growth of housing costs. Abolishing zoning regulations triggers a slower rent growth and reduces wealth inequality by 0.7 percentage points (measured by the top 10 percent share). Average welfare increases by 0.5 percent. The household-specific welfare effects are asymmetric. The poor benefit more than the rich, and the richest wealth decile is even worse off.