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Impulsivity and household indebtedness: Evidence from real life

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  • Ottaviani, Cristina
  • Vandone, Daniela

Abstract

Using a probit model, we estimated the role of emotional factors in determining household participation in the debt market, after controlling for such traditional economic predictors as age, level of education, income, wealth, and work status. A sample of 445 Caucasian subjects selected among fulltime employees at international asset management companies underwent the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale, the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) while skin conductance was recorded, and a series of questions related to their demographic-socio-economic profile. Aside from confirming the role played by traditional explanatory variables commonly used as determinants of household indebtedness, results revealed the significant influence of individuals’ impulsivity in making debt decisions. Impulsivity predicted unsecured debt (i.e. consumer credit), but it was not significantly associated with secured debt (i.e. mortgages). Neither presence of a somatic marker to guide decisions nor performance at the IGT predicted real-life indebtedness decisions in this non-clinical sample. The notion that “non-rational” factors influence debt demand has been largely ignored and raises concerns about the risk of over-indebtedness for impulsive individuals.

Suggested Citation

  • Ottaviani, Cristina & Vandone, Daniela, 2011. "Impulsivity and household indebtedness: Evidence from real life," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 754-761.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:32:y:2011:i:5:p:754-761
    DOI: 10.1016/j.joep.2011.05.002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Shinsuke Ikeda & Myong-Il Kang, 2015. "Hyperbolic Discounting, Borrowing Aversion and Debt Holding," The Japanese Economic Review, Japanese Economic Association, vol. 66(4), pages 421-446, December.
    2. Luisa ANDERLONI & Emanuele BACCHIOCCHI & Daniela VANDONE, 2011. "Household financial vulnerability: an empirical analysis," Departmental Working Papers 2011-02, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano, revised 03 Nov 2011.
    3. Luisa ANDERLONI & Daniela VANDONE, 2011. "Vulnerabilità e benessere delle famiglie italiane," Departmental Working Papers 2011-40, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
    4. Cristina OTTAVIANI & Daniela VANDONE, 2016. "Is Impulsivity a Mediator of the Relationship between Financial Literacy and Debt Decisions?," Departmental Working Papers 2016-06, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
    5. Rodríguez-Planas, Núria, 2018. "Mortgage Finance and Culture," IZA Discussion Papers 11316, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Reyers, Michelle & van Schalkwyk, Cornelis Hendrik & Gouws, Daniël Gerhardus, 2015. "Rational and behavioural predictors of pre-retirement cash-outs," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 23-33.
    7. Atte Oksanen & Mikko Aaltonen & Kati Rantala, 2015. "Social Determinants of Debt Problems in a Nordic Welfare State: a Finnish Register-Based Study," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 38(3), pages 229-246, September.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Behavioral economics; Decision-making; Household indebtedness; Impulsivity; Iowa Gambling Task; Probit model;

    JEL classification:

    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages

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