Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Real Estate Research Spans Our Campus

by Stephen Malpezzi, Professor and Lorin and Marjorie Tiefenthaler Distinguished Chair in Real Estate

One of the defining characteristics of the University of Wisconsin is the breadth of scholarship and teaching across the campus. For example, we teach more foreign languages (more than 80!) than any other university in the world. In previous posts, we talked about the new Discovery Institutes, a public-private partnership that brings together researchers from across campus to work on a range of problems such as epigenetics (how genes are activated or inactivated), tissue engineering (using artificial structures called “scaffolds” to grow cells into substitutes for biological material – maybe that piece of my knee I lost in a long-ago basketball game), improvements in therapeutic technologies, the application of recent advances in the mathematics of optimization to biology and medicine, and a broad look at the “systems level” of biological organisms.

The Graaskamp Center and its associated faculty are in the thick of intellectual ferment in our field, both inside and outside the University. Within UW, our faculty have their academic homes in the Wisconsin School of Business, but our faculty also have formal affiliations with other UW organizations, including Economics, Urban and Regional Planning, the Institute for Research on Poverty, World Affairs and the Global Economy (WAGE), and the Law School, to name a few. In turn, selected faculty from these and other units serve as Faculty Fellows of the Graaskamp Center. Among their many contributions, these colleagues often speak at our events such as the twice-annual meetings of our Board of Advisors and the Wisconsin Real Estate and Economic Outlook Conference.

We’re very fortunate that we can also leverage off each other’s research. Some years ago, Richard Green (then on our faculty) and Michelle White wrote an influential paper “Measuring the Benefits of Homeownership: Effects on Children,” that kicked off a renewed interest among housing economists in the connections between housing markets and social outcomes. More recently, housing economists in the Graaskamp Center have been focused on the connections between unemployment and the economic well-being of families, and our recent problems in the housing market, for example the development of the Wisconsin Foreclosure and Unemployment Relief Plan (WI-FUR).

Thus, we’re very pleased to see a new Wisconsin research initiative on the connections between housing and the long-term health and well-being of children, families and communities from our colleagues at the Institute for Research on Poverty:


Three researchers with the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Timothy Smeeding, Lawrence Berger and J. Michael Collins, have received support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to explore the role housing plays in the long-term health and well-being of children, families and communities.

Their main thesis is that income benefit policies are also housing stability policies that help families maintain payments for mortgages and rent and therefore avoid forced housing changes. The goal of their research is to identify the most effective policies for avoiding the negative impacts of housing changes on family well-being.

We’re looking forward to learning from this research as it comes online. Read the full press release from UW-Madison News.

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