Charging up a mountain of debt: households and their credit cards
AbstractI use the Surveys of Consumer Finances conducted in 1983, 1989 and 1992 to separate the growth of credit card debt into two categories, changes in the number of households with credit cards and changes in households credit card debt. I can then account for the relative contributions of increases in credit card availability, number of households, and average credit card debt. I also use the household income information to quantify the impact of more lower income households with credit cards. Data suggest that the increases in credit card debt is largely attributable to increased average credit card debt of households, not from more households with access to credit cards. Moreover, households in the top half of the income distribution accounted for most of the changes in the growth of credit card debt although lower income households increased their access to credit cards at a faster rate than households in general, and increased their average debt faster than the population.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 1996-015.
Date of creation: 1996
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review, March/April 1997, 79(2)
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