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SERC/Urban and Spatial Programme Discussion Paper
Do Homeowners Benefit Urban Neighborhoods? Evidence from Housing Prices
Mika Kortelainen and Tuukka Saarimaa
May 2012
Paper No' SERCDP0110:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: D62; R21; R28

Tags: homeownership; neighborhood effects; partial linear model; set identification

Homeownership is heavily subsidized in many countries mainly through the tax code. The adverse effects of lenient tax treatment of owner-occupied housing on economic efficiency and growth are large and well documented in the economics literature. The main argument in favor of subsidizing owner-occupied housing is that it creates positive externalities that offset these adverse effects. This paper tests whether homeowners create positive externalities to their immediate neighborhood that capitalize into housing prices in multi-storey buildings. Using semiparametric hedonic regressions with and without instrumental variables we find no evidence of positive externalities from neighborhood homeownership rate. This result is robust to relaxing the identification assumptions of our instrument using a recently developed set identification method. Our results suggest that the adverse efficiency effects of lenient tax treatment of owner-occupied housing are not offset by positive externalities.