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Consumer Bankruptcy And Chapter Choice: State Panel Evidence




"Between 1985 and 1996, the number of personal bankruptcy cases filed annually in the United States rose from 341,000 to 1.1 million, and the rate of bankruptcies per 100,000 adults increased from 203 to 596. By state, bankruptcy rates vary from a low of 147 in Hawaii to a high of 956 in Tennessee. A controversial aspect of bankruptcy policy is the discharge of debts permitted under Chapter 7, in contrast to Chapter 13, where the debtor agrees to repay all or a portion of unsecured debt over a 3-5-year period. This paper examines empirically the determinants of the frequency with which individuals choose Chapter 13 relative to Chapter 7 (chapter choice). The panel data set is a cross section of states and the District of Columbia for the 8-year period from fiscal year 1989 to 1996. The empirical model and policy application focus on the importance of several laws for bankruptcy decisions, and legal variables are included for each state's Chapter 7 homestead exemption, personal property exemptions, and garnishment laws. This study shows that both homestead exemption laws and garnishment laws are statistically significant for bankruptcy choices. Although the marginal effect of the homestead exemption is small, there is a large range under current laws, suggesting that changes in this exemption are important for bankruptcy policy." ("JEL" K1, K4, D2, D9) Copyright 1999 Western Economic Association International.

Suggested Citation

  • Jon P. Nelson, 1999. "Consumer Bankruptcy And Chapter Choice: State Panel Evidence," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 17(4), pages 552-566, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:coecpo:v:17:y:1999:i:4:p:552-566

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dye, Ronald A, 1986. "An Economic Analysis of Bankruptcy Statutes," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 24(3), pages 417-428, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Donald D. Hackney & Daniel Friesner & Matthew Q. McPherson, 2015. "Do Debtors Have an Obvious Financial Rationale for Filing a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Petition?," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 35(3), pages 1572-1588.
    2. Hülya Eraslan & Gizem Koşar & Wenli Li & Pierre‐Daniel Sarte, 2017. "An Anatomy Of U.S. Personal Bankruptcy Under Chapter 13," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 58, pages 671-702, August.
    3. Gross, Tal & Notowidigdo, Matthew J., 2011. "Health insurance and the consumer bankruptcy decision: Evidence from expansions of Medicaid," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7), pages 767-778.
    4. Wenli Li & Pierre-Daniel G. Sarte, 2002. "The macroeconomics of U.S. consumer bankruptcy choice : chapter 7 or chapter 13?," Working Paper 02-01, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
    5. Li, Wenli & Sarte, Pierre-Daniel, 2006. "U.S. consumer bankruptcy choice: The importance of general equilibrium effects," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 613-631, April.
    6. Jagtiani, Julapa & Li, Wenli, 2014. "Credit access after consumer bankruptcy filing: new evidence," Working Papers 14-25, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    7. Richard Thalheimer & Mukhtar M. Ali, 2004. "The Relationship of Pari-mutuel Wagering and Casino Gaming to Personal Bankruptcy," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 22(3), pages 420-432, July.
    8. Agarwal, Sumit & Liu, Chunlin & Mielnicki, Lawrence, 2003. "Exemption laws and consumer delinquency and bankruptcy behavior: an empirical analysis of credit card data," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 273-289.
    9. John M. Barron & Michael E. Staten & Stephanie M. Wilshusen, 2002. "The Impact Of Casino Gambling On Personal Bankruptcy Filing Rates," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 20(4), pages 440-455, October.
    10. Garrett, Thomas A. & Wall, Howard J., 2014. "Personal-Bankruptcy Cycles," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 18(07), pages 1488-1507, October.
    11. Ronel Elul & Narayanan Subramanian, 2002. "Forum-Shopping and Personal Bankruptcy," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer;Western Finance Association, vol. 21(3), pages 233-255, June.
    12. Wenli Li, 2001. "To forgive or not to forgive : an analysis of U.S. consumer bankruptcy choices," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Spr, pages 1-22.
    13. Jochen Bigus & Eva-Maria Steiger, 2006. "When it pays to be honest: How a variable period of good conduct can improve incentives in personal bankruptcy proceedings," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 22(3), pages 233-253, November.
    14. Jon Nelson, 2000. "Consumer Bankruptcies and the Bankruptcy Reform Act: A Time-Series Intervention Analysis, 1960–1997," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer;Western Finance Association, vol. 17(2), pages 181-200, August.
    15. Malhotra, Rashmi & Malhotra, D. K., 2002. "Differentiating between good credits and bad credits using neuro-fuzzy systems," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 136(1), pages 190-211, January.
    16. Adkisson, Richard V. & Saucedo, Eduardo, 2012. "Emulation and state-by-state variations in bankruptcy rates," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 400-407.
    17. Andreas Lehnert & Dean M. Maki, 2002. "Consumption, debt and portfolio choice: testing the effect of bankruptcy law," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2002-14, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    18. Lefgren Lars & McIntyre Frank L & Miller Michelle, 2010. "Chapter 7 or 13: Are Client or Lawyer Interests Paramount?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-46, September.
    19. Thomas A. Garrett, 2007. "The rise in personal bankruptcies: the Eighth Federal Reserve District and beyond," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jan, pages 15-38.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K1 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law
    • K4 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior
    • D2 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations
    • D9 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics


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