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Abstract: This paper uses data from the 2007-09 Survey of Consumer Finances panel to examine U.S. households' decisions to move and the role of negative home equity and economic shocks, such as job loss, in these decisions. Even over this period of steep house price declines and sharp recession, we find that most moves were prompted by standard reasons. The recession's effects are nonetheless apparent in the notable fraction of homeowners who moved involuntarily due to, for example, foreclosure. Many involuntary moves appear to stem a combination of negative home equity and adverse economic shocks rather than negative equity alone. Homeowners with both negative equity and economic shocks were substantially more likely to have moved between 2007 and 2009 and to have moved involuntarily. The findings suggest that, analogous to the double-trigger theory of default, the relationship between negative equity and household mobility varies with households' exposure to adverse shocks.

Keywords: Mobility, negative equity

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