How far out of whack are house prices? A ranking of Canadian cities

By Allen Head & Huw Lloyd-Ellis, Queen’s University

Building on the research behind a recent article in the Canadian Journal of Economics (Head and Lloyd-Ellis, 2016), we develop an economic model of housing markets and use it to rank Canadian cities based on the percentage difference between predictions and real world prices. This gives us the following excess valuations by year.

Table: Excess Valuations (% deviation from 1984-1998 average)

  2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
1. Vancouver, BC 39 33 32 32 39 48
2. Oshawa, ON 1 11 8 12 23 39
3. St. John’s, NL 52 63 60 57 44 37
4. Toronto, ON 4 12 10 12 18 32
5. St Catharines-Niagara, ON 4 9 6 6 12 25
6. Sherbrooke, QB 24 30 29 19 29 18
7. Hamilton, ON 4 17 13 13 13 16
8. Regina, SK 20 27 22 11 13 15
9. Victoria, BC 19 17 10 7 7 13
10. Calgary, AB 18 15 9 3 2 10
11. Halifax, NS 22 27 20 14 12 9
12. Winnipeg, MB 20 26 18 13 11 9
13. Windsor, ON -3 0 0 0 0 8
14. Gatineau, QB 8 14 11 7 7 6
15. Thunder Bay, ON -6 1 6 9 8 6
16. Montreal, QB 6 15 9 7 5 5
17. Saskatoon, SK 9 13 7 2 8 5
18. Ottawa, ON 10 14 10 8 5 3
19. Quebec, QB 9 16 13 6 4 2
20. Kitchener-Waterloo, ON -2 2 -4 -5 -4 1
21. Saguenay, QB 9 20 15 6 0 -2
22. Edmonton, AB 5 6 -4 -9 -8 -4
23. Greater Sudbury, ON 2 7 5 2 -5 -4
24. Kingston, ON -5 -2 -8 -11 -10 -10
25. Trois-Rivieres, QB 0 2 -1 -3 -8 -10
26. London, ON -12 -10 -12 -13 -12 -12
27. Saint John, NB 0 0 -1 -9 -13 -13
Average 10 14 10 7 7 9

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Why do Wages Differ Across Countries? Lessons from migrants to Canada in the 1920s

By Frank Lewis, Professor Emeritus, Department of Economics, Queen’s University

A chambermaid in Canada has a wage more than twice that of a chambermaid in South Korea; a pharmacist earns four times what a pharmacist in India earns; and a registered nurse receives six times the earnings of a registered nurse in the Philippines. These approximate purchasing-power-parity comparisons typify the large wage gaps between Canada and many other countries; and lead to the question: why doesn’t the chambermaid in South Korea, the pharmacist in India, and the registered nurse in the Philippines move to Canada? Read More »

Research: Oil Exporters Should NOT Price Level Target

By Stephen Snudden, JDI Student Fellow, Queen’s University

Monetary policy may focus on price level targeting (PLT) or inflation targeting (IT). The distinction between the two frameworks is that under IT, the central bank does not respond to temporary deviation of prices from trend. Bygones are bygones. In contrast, with PLT, past inflation performance matters and past deviations must be undone to restore the price level to the target path.Read More »

Working to better understand the relationship between student effort and parental investments

Eric Richert summarizes his essay, “Estimating an Effort Coordination Game Between Parents and Their Children,” which was a co-winner of the 2016 Scarthingmoor Prize for best MA essay in economics. Eric is currently a PhD student in the Queen’s Economics Department. 

By Eric Richert, Queen’s University

Student learning typically requires effort provision by parents, teachers, and students.  However, the early education literature all too often ignores student effort focusing only on the effort of parents and teachers. The effort decision of the child is often excluded from the optimization problem that is solved by the parent, or is a decision made by the parent.   The traditional model strangely ignores the child’s decisions. This assumption may make sense in early childhood but is less believable as students move into high school and beyond, where they are able to make their own decisions.

In my research, I examine the effects of allowing children to make their own decisions regarding the amount of effort they put into their studies.

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On the Benefits of Government Intervention in the Vancouver Housing Market

By Andrea Craig, JDI Student Fellow, Queen’s University

Housing prices, housing affordability, and the impact of offshore money on residential real estate in Vancouver are not new topics. However, policies to address these issues are new. Beginning last August, foreign purchases of residential real estate in Metro Vancouver are subject to an additional 15 percent property transfer tax. In addition, last month, the provincial government announced repayable down-payment assistance for first-time homebuyers in B.C.

As consumers we associate higher tax rates with higher prices. In the usual case of a tax imposed on all consumers, this is correct. However, in the case of the foreign property transfer tax, prices will decrease (or appreciate less). Here is a stylized analysis showing how the foreign property transfer tax decreases housing prices.Read More »

Lack of government research funding biases policy to favor special interests

By Christopher Cotton, Queen’s University

U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, Donald Trump’s pick for budget director, has attracted attention for asking, “Do we really need government funded research at all?” Although it’s not clear whether Mr. Mulvaney is against all government research funding, the question raises concerns of academics and proponents of evidence based policymaking.

Coauthor Arnaud Dellis (UQAM) and I speak to the impact of government funded research (or the lack thereof) in a research article (ungated) published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Law, Economics and Organization.Read More »

The Impact of Post-Secondary Funding on the Educational Attainment of Indigenous Students in Canada

By Maggie Jones, JDI Student Fellow, Queen’s University

In 1980, Canadian men with a bachelor’s degree earned approximately 32% more than those with a high school degree. For women, the equivalent figure was 44%.  By 2005 the university to high school wage premium had increased to about 41% for men and 51% for women (see Figure 1).  The rise in the wage premium over this time period shows just how important post-secondary education has become at an individual level.

In a recent working paper, titled Student Aid and the Distribution of Educational Attainment, I examine the effects of providing post-secondary funding on educational choices in the context of a large program for Indigenous students in Canada. Read More »

Understanding How Technological Change Affects the Wage Premium of Skilled Workers

By Wenbo Zhu, JDI Student Fellow, Queen’s University

Some technological advancements are skill-complementing, meaning that they tend to increase the productivity and demand for skilled workers. Other technological advancements are skill-replacing, meaning that they tend to reduce the demand for skilled workers and raise the productivity and demand for unskilled workers. Electronic computers are typically considered a prime example of skill-complementing technologies, whereas assembly lines and the use of interchangeable parts in the manufacturing industry are classic examples of skill-replacing technologies.

Disentangling the impacts of each type of technology is important for understanding of the impact of technological changes on labor markets. Read More »

International Trade with Heterogeneous Firms: Policy Implications

By Beverly Lapham, Queen’s University

Researchers and policymakers have long recognized that firms within an industry differ along many dimensions (size, productivity, participation in international markets, etc.). However, firm-level empirical analysis and rigorous theoretical models with firm heterogeneity have only been developed in the last fifteen years or so. Such analyses improve our understanding of how these differences affect firms’ performance in global and domestic markets and their responses to trade liberalization.Read More »