Moral and Social Constraints to Strategic Default on Mortgages
AbstractWe use survey data to study American households’ propensity to default when the value of their mortgage exceeds the value of their house even if they can afford to pay their mortgage (strategic default). We find that 26% of the existing defaults are strategic. We also find that no household would default if the equity shortfall is less than 10% of the value of the house. Yet, 17% of households would default, even if they can afford to pay their mortgage, when the equity shortfall reaches 50% of the value of their house. Besides relocation costs, the most important variables in predicting strategic default are moral and social considerations. Ceteris paribus, people who consider it immoral to default are at 77% less likely to declare their intention to do so, while people who know someone who defaulted are 82% more likely to declare their intention to do so. The willingness to default increases nonlinearly with the proportion of foreclosures in the same ZIP code. That moral attitudes toward default do not change with the percentage of foreclosures is likely to derive from a contagion effect that reduces the social stigma associated with default as defaults become more common.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7352.
Date of creation: Jul 2009
Date of revision:
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Other versions of this item:
- Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2009. "Moral and Social Constraints to Strategic Default on Mortgages," Economics Working Papers ECO2009/27, European University Institute.
- Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2009. "Moral and Social Constraints to Strategic Default on Mortgages," EIEF Working Papers Series 0905, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Jun 2009.
- Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2009. "Moral and Social Constraints to Strategic Default on Mortgages," NBER Working Papers 15145, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
- G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
- G18 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Government Policy and Regulation
- G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
- G33 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Bankruptcy; Liquidation
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2009-07-17 (All new papers)
- NEP-BEC-2009-07-17 (Business Economics)
- NEP-RMG-2009-07-17 (Risk Management)
- NEP-SOC-2009-07-17 (Social Norms & Social Capital)
- NEP-URE-2009-07-17 (Urban & Real Estate Economics)
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