National and Regional Housing Patterns
Residential investment is one of the most volatile components of GDP. Coming out of a recession, it is not uncommon for residential investment to jump by more than 20 percent in a year. Going into a recession, it may fall by a similar fraction. Thus, while residential investment accounts for just 4 percent of GDP, it can have a disproportionate influence at critical junctures. Moreover, fluctuations in residential investment can have even greater impact at the regional level. This article compares patterns of residential investment, with a particular emphasis on the similarities and differences between the 1980s and the 1990s in individual regions. On balance, the author finds the picture as of 1999 to be fairly reassuring. Although the volume of construction in the Mountain states was high, even relative to that area's rapid population growth, no region seemed to possess the vulnerabilities that characterized New England and Texas in the 1980s.