IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Keeping Up With the Joneses: Analyzing the Effect of Income Inequality on Consumer Borrowing

  • Markus Christen

    ()

  • Ruskin Morgan

    ()

Registered author(s):

    Household debt relative to disposable income increased from 60% in 1980 to 104% at the end of 2003. ‘Buying on credit’ has become so popular that an increasing number of firms generate more profit from financing than from selling their products. In this paper, we show that rising income inequality has substantially contributed to increased consumer borrowing. Income inequality affects all components of total household debt, but the impact is strongest on non-revolving debt (installment loans), which is used to finance the purchase of consumer durables. We argue and provide evidence that the income inequality effect on consumer borrowing is a result of conspicuous consumption. Rising income inequality has forced households with smaller income gains to use debt to keep up their consumption level relative to households with larger income gains. Copyright Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11129-005-0351-1
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Springer in its journal Quantitative Marketing and Economics.

    Volume (Year): 3 (2005)
    Issue (Month): 2 (June)
    Pages: 145-173

    as
    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:kap:qmktec:v:3:y:2005:i:2:p:145-173
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=111240

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as in new window
    1. Karen E. Dynan & Jonathan Skinner & Stephen P. Zeldes, 2000. "Do the rich save more?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-52, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    2. Paul Bennett & Richard Peach & Stavros Peristiani, 1998. "Structural change in the mortgage market and the propensity to refinance," Staff Reports 45, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    3. Gary S. Becker & Michael Grossman & Kevin M. Murphy, 1990. "An Empirical Analysis of Cigarette Addiction," NBER Working Papers 3322, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Frank, Robert H, 1985. "The Demand for Unobservable and Other Nonpositional Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 101-16, March.
    5. Donald P. Morgan & Ian Toll, 1997. "Bad debt rising," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 3(Mar).
    6. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
    7. Becker, Gary S, 1974. "A Theory of Social Interactions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1063-93, Nov.-Dec..
    8. David Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 2000. "A Debt Puzzle," Documentos de Trabajo 80, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
    9. Thaler, Richard H & Shefrin, H M, 1981. "An Economic Theory of Self-Control," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(2), pages 392-406, April.
    10. Dilip Soman & Amar Cheema, 2002. "The Effect of Credit on Spending Decisions: The Role of the Credit Limit and Credibility," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 21(1), pages 32-53, September.
    11. Dean M. Maki & Michael G. Palumbo, 2001. "Disentangling the wealth effect: a cohort analysis of household saving in the 1990s," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2001-21, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    12. Feinberg, Richard A, 1986. " Credit Cards as Spending Facilitating Stimuli: A Conditioning Interpretation," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(3), pages 348-56, December.
    13. Drazen Prelec & George Loewenstein, 1998. "The Red and the Black: Mental Accounting of Savings and Debt," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 17(1), pages 4-28.
    14. Klaus Wertenbroch, 1998. "Consumption Self-Control by Rationing Purchase Quantities of Virtue and Vice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 17(4), pages 317-337.
    15. Bagwell, Laurie Simon & Bernheim, B Douglas, 1996. "Veblen Effects in a Theory of Conspicuous Consumption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 349-73, June.
    16. Scott Fay & Erik Hurst & Michelle J. White, 2002. "The Household Bankruptcy Decision," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(3), pages 706-718, June.
    17. Sebastian Barnes & Garry Young, 2003. "The rise in US household debt: assessing its causes and sustainability," Bank of England working papers 206, Bank of England.
    18. Krueger, Dirk & Perri, Fabrizio, 2002. "Does Income Inequality Lead to Consumption Inequality?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3583, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    19. Ausubel, Lawrence M, 1991. "The Failure of Competition in the Credit Card Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 50-81, March.
    20. Dean M. Maki, 2000. "The growth of consumer credit and the household debt service burden," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-12, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    21. Guy Debelle, 2004. "Macroeconomic implications of rising household debt," BIS Working Papers 153, Bank for International Settlements.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:qmktec:v:3:y:2005:i:2:p:145-173. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Guenther Eichhorn)

    or (Christopher F. Baum)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.