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Cityscape: Volume 13 Number 1 | Chapter 8


Discovering Homelessness

Volume 13 Number 1

Home Maintenance and Investment Decisions

Jonathan D. Fisher, New York Census Research Data Center, Baruch College
Elliot D. Williams, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Data Shop

Data Shop, a department of Cityscape, presents short articles or notes on the uses of data in housing and urban research. Through this department, PD&R introduces readers to new and overlooked data sources and to improved techniques in using well-known data. The emphasis is on sources and methods that analysts can use in their own work. Researchers often run into knotty data problems involving data interpretation or manipulation that must be solved before a project can proceed, but they seldom get to focus in detail on the solutions to such problems. If you have an idea for an applied, data-centric note of no more than 3,000 words, please send a one-paragraph abstract to for consideration.

Any opinions and conclusions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Census Bureau or the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The research in this article does not use any confidential Census Bureau information.


The owned home is often the largest asset in a household’s portfolio. To maintain its value, the home requires continual reinvestment, and a homeowner can increase its value through renovations and additions. Empirical research on these home maintenance and investment decisions of the household has relied almost exclusively on the American Housing Survey (AHS). The research presented in this article added a new data set to this literature, the Consumer Expenditure (CE) Survey, using quarterly household data from 1984 to the first quarter of 2005. In the article, we first compare results between the AHS and CE Survey using some stylized facts identified in the literature. Then we move beyond this comparison and highlight some strengths of the CE Survey, including the distinct time-series patterns observed in the quarterly data.

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