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Do high debt payments hinder household consumption smoothing?

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  • Kathleen W. Johnson
  • Geng Li
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Abstract

Recently, U.S. households have committed a rising share of disposable personal income to required principal and interest payments on household debt. Studies of the direct link between the household debt service ratio (DSR) and consumption show mixed results—perhaps because debt may instead alter the relationship between consumption and income. We explore this possibility by comparing the consumption smoothing behavior of households over the DSR distribution. We find that a high DSR alone does not indicate higher sensitivity of consumption to a change in income. However, we find evidence that the DSR may help identify borrowing constrained households. In particular, the consumption of households with low liquid assets and high DSRs is more sensitive than the consumption of other low liquid asset households. Although this effect of high DSR is not precisely estimated, it is large and robust to changes in the specification, suggesting that more work is warranted.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2007-52.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2007-52

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Keywords: Consumption (Economics) ; Debts; Public;

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References

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  1. Philippe BACCHETTA & Stefan GERLACH, 1997. "Consumption and Credit Constraints : International Evidence," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 9707, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.
  2. Jappelli, Tullio, 1990. "Who Is Credit Constrained in the U.S. Economy?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(1), pages 219-34, February.
  3. David B. Gross & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2002. "Do Liquidity Constraints And Interest Rates Matter For Consumer Behavior? Evidence From Credit Card Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 149-185, February.
  4. Bound, John & Brown, Charles & Mathiowetz, Nancy, 2001. "Measurement error in survey data," Handbook of Econometrics, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 59, pages 3705-3843 Elsevier.
  5. Guy Debelle, 2004. "Macroeconomic implications of rising household debt," BIS Working Papers 153, Bank for International Settlements.
  6. Brian Bucks & Karen Pence, 2006. "Do homeowners know their house values and mortgage terms?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2006-03, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  7. Gervais, Martin & Klein, Paul, 2010. "Measuring consumption smoothing in CEX data," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(8), pages 988-999, November.
  8. Susan Dynarski & Jonathan Gruber, 1997. "Can Families Smooth Variable Earnings?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 28(1), pages 229-303.
  9. Mishkin, Frederic S, 1976. "Illiquidity, Consumer Durable Expenditure, and Monetary Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(4), pages 642-54, September.
  10. Jonathan McCarthy, 1997. "Debt, delinquencies, and consumer spending," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 3(Feb).
  11. Lusardi, Annamaria, 1996. "Permanent Income, Current Income, and Consumption: Evidence from Two Panel Data Sets," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 14(1), pages 81-90, January.
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Citations

Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Consumption Smoothing
    by Liam Delaney in The Irish Economy on 2009-06-16 21:25:04
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Cited by:
  1. Karen E. Dynan & Donald L. Kohn, 2007. "The rise in U.S. household indebtedness: causes and consequences," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2007-37, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  2. Lydon, Reamonn, 2013. "Do households with debt problems spend less?," Economic Letters 02/EL/13, Central Bank of Ireland.
  3. Karen Dynan, 2012. "Is a Household Debt Overhang Holding Back Consumption," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 44(1 (Spring), pages 299-362.

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