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Negative Equity Does Not Reduce Homeowners’ Mobility

Quarterly Review 3511 | Published February 1, 2012

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Negative Equity Does Not Reduce Homeowners’ Mobility


Many researchers, policymakers, and pundits have argued that the housing crisis may harm labor markets because homeowners who owe more than their homes are worth are less likely to move to places that have productive job opportunities. I show that, in the available data, negative equity does not make homeowners less mobile. In fact, homeowners who have negative equity are slightly more likely to move than homeowners who have positive equity. Ferreira, Gyourko, and Tracy’s (2010) contrasting result that negative equity reduces mobility arises because they systematically drop some negative-equity homeowners’ moves from the data.