IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Why Don't More Households File for Bankruptcy?

  • White, Michelle J
Registered author(s):

    A much higher fraction of U.S. households would benefit financially from bankruptcy than actually file. While the current bankruptcy filing rate is about 1% of households each year, I calculate that at least 15% of households would benefit financially from filing and the actual figure would be several times higher if most households plan in advance for the possibility of filing. Two explanations are explored for why more households don't file for bankruptcy. The first is a model of the interaction between creditors' remedies against debtors who default and the debtors' right to file for bankruptcy. The model implies that some debtors default but do not file for bankruptcy, even though they would benefit financially from doing so, because creditors do not always attempt to collect. The other explanation involves the option value of bankruptcy. Many debtors who would not benefit from filing immediately gain from having the option to file in the future. I calculate the value of the option for typical households and show that it can be very valuable, particularly for households that have high variance of the return to net wealth and households that live in states with high bankruptcy exemption levels. Copyright 1998 by Oxford University Press.

    To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
    1. Check below under "Related research" whether another version of this item is available online.
    2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
    3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.

    Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Journal of Law, Economics and Organization.

    Volume (Year): 14 (1998)
    Issue (Month): 2 (October)
    Pages: 205-31

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:oup:jleorg:v:14:y:1998:i:2:p:205-31
    Contact details of provider: Postal: Oxford University Press, Great Clarendon Street, Oxford OX2 6DP, UK
    Fax: 01865 267 985
    Web page:

    Order Information: Web:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    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:oup:jleorg:v:14:y:1998:i:2:p:205-31. 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: (Oxford University Press)

    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.