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Did Bankruptcy Reform Cause Mortgage Defaults to Rise?

Author

Listed:
  • Wenli Li
  • Michelle J. White
  • Ning Zhu

Abstract

Homeowners in financial distress can use bankruptcy to avoid defaulting on their mortgages, since filing loosens their budget constraints. But the 2005 bankruptcy reform made bankruptcy less favorable to homeowners and therefore caused mortgage defaults to rise. We test this relationship and find that the reform caused prime and subprime mortgage default rates to rise by 23% and 14%, respectively. Default rates rose even more for homeowners who were particularly negatively affected by the reform. We calculate that bankruptcy reform caused mortgage default rates to rise by one percentage point even before the start of the financial crisis. (JEL D14, G01, G21, K35)

Suggested Citation

  • Wenli Li & Michelle J. White & Ning Zhu, 2011. "Did Bankruptcy Reform Cause Mortgage Defaults to Rise?," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 123-147, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:3:y:2011:i:4:p:123-47
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.3.4.123
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Michelle J. White, 2007. "Bankruptcy Reform and Credit Cards," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(4), pages 175-200, Fall.
    2. Benjamin J. Keys & Tanmoy Mukherjee & Amit Seru & Vikrant Vig, 2010. "Did Securitization Lead to Lax Screening? Evidence from Subprime Loans," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(1), pages 307-362.
    3. Wenli Li & Michelle J. White, 2009. "Mortgage Default, Foreclosure, and Bankruptcy," NBER Working Papers 15472, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Adelino, Manuel & Gerardi, Kristopher & Willen, Paul S., 2013. "Why don't Lenders renegotiate more home mortgages? Redefaults, self-cures and securitization," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(7), pages 835-853.
    5. Ronel Elul & Nicholas S. Souleles & Souphala Chomsisengphet & Dennis Glennon & Robert Hunt, 2010. "What "Triggers" Mortgage Default?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 490-494, May.
    6. Kiefer, Nicholas M, 1988. "Economic Duration Data and Hazard Functions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 26(2), pages 646-679, June.
    7. Michelle J. White & Ning Zhu, 2010. "Saving Your Home in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 39(1), pages 33-61, January.
    8. Berkowitz, Jeremy & Hynes, Richard, 1999. "Bankruptcy Exemptions and the Market for Mortgage Loans," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(2), pages 809-830, October.
    9. Ai, Chunrong & Norton, Edward C., 2003. "Interaction terms in logit and probit models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 123-129, July.
    10. Christopher J. Mayer & Karen Pence, 2008. "Subprime Mortgages: What, Where, and to Whom?," NBER Working Papers 14083, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Michelle J. White, 2007. "Bankruptcy Reform and Credit Cards," NBER Working Papers 13265, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • K35 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Personal Bankruptcy Law

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