Locked in by leverage: Job search during the housing crisis

Jennifer Brown, David A. Matsa*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


This paper examines how housing market distress affects job search. Using data from a leading online job search platform during the Great Recession, we find that job seekers in areas with depressed housing markets apply for fewer jobs that require relocation. With their search constrained geographically, job seekers broaden their search for lower-level positions nearby. These effects are stronger for job seekers with recourse mortgages, which we confirm using a spatial regression discontinuity analysis. Our findings suggest that housing market distress distorts labor market outcomes by impeding households’ ability to move.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)623-648
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Financial Economics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2020


  • Housing market
  • Job search
  • Labor mobility
  • Mortgage debt

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Strategy and Management


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