Table of Contents
Urban Studies Research
Volume 2015, Article ID 121978, 13 pages
Research Article

Testing Estimates of Housing Cost Differences among US Metropolitan Areas

Robert B. Pamplin, Jr. School of Business Administration, University of Portland, 5000 N. Willamette Boulevard, Portland, OR 97203, USA

Received 11 June 2014; Revised 16 October 2014; Accepted 23 October 2014

Academic Editor: Eric Koomen

Copyright © 2015 Todd Easton. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper investigates the accuracy of six measures of housing cost differences among US metropolitan areas. Using Census data from 177 metropolitan areas, it tests the measures in two ways. First, it tests the ability of changes in the measures to predict changes in the shelter component of the metropolitan CPI from 1990 to 2000. Second, it tests the ability of the measures themselves to predict a proxy in 2000. A measure based on Fair Market Rents calculated by HUD placed second on the first test but did badly on the second. The housing component of the ACCRA index, a living cost measure frequently used by researchers, performed poorly on both tests. The top performer on both tests was a measure based on the average rent per room for a metropolitan area’s dwellings. Researchers wishing to control for living cost differences among places should consider including it in their living cost index.