Local housing costs and basic household needs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The supplemental poverty measure (SPM)—which serves as an indicator of economic well-being in addition to the official poverty rate—was introduced in 2010 and explicitly adjusts for geographic differences in the cost of housing. By embedding housing costs, the SPM diverges from official measures in some instances, offering a conflicting view on family well-being. However, there is limited direct evidence of the impact of housing costs on household well-being, and virtually all of it focuses on food insecurity. This study examines the impact of local housing costs on household well-being using the “basic needs” data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation. Across a wide variety of specifications, no evidence is found that housing costs impact well-being. In contrast, local labor market conditions do impact the well-being measures in many specifications. The findings call into question one of the key motivations for the SPM—that geographic cost differences are a major factor for household well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)901-923
Number of pages23
JournalEmpirical Economics
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • Housing costs
  • Labor market conditions
  • Material hardship
  • Poverty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Mathematics (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics


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