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Consumer Bankruptcy: A Fresh Start

Author

Listed:
  • Igor Livshits
  • James MacGee
  • Michèle Tertilt

Abstract

Consumer bankruptcy provides partial insurance against bad luck, but, by driving up interest rates, makes life-cycle smoothing more difficult. We argue that to assess this trade-off one needs a quantitative model of consumer bankruptcy with three key features: life-cycle component, idiosyncratic earnings uncertainty, and expense uncertainty (exogenous negative shocks to household balance sheets). We find that transitory and persistent earnings shocks have very different implications for evaluating bankruptcy rules. More persistent shocks make the bankruptcy option more desirable. Larger transitory shocks have the opposite effect. Our findings suggest the current US bankruptcy system may be desirable for reasonable parameter values. (JEL D14, D91, K35)

Suggested Citation

  • Igor Livshits & James MacGee & Michèle Tertilt, 2007. "Consumer Bankruptcy: A Fresh Start," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 402-418, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:97:y:2007:i:1:p:402-418 Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.97.1.402
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Igor Livshits & James MacGee & Michèle Tertilt, 2007. "Consumer Bankruptcy: A Fresh Start," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 402-418.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E49 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Other
    • G18 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • K35 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Personal Bankruptcy Law

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