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Does High Cost of Mortgage Debt Explain Why Young Adults Live with Their Parents?


  • Nuno Martins
  • Ernesto Villanueva


Young adults leave their parents' homes at a higher rate in Northern Europe or in the United States than in Southern Europe, with broad implications on labor market mobility and on fertility. We assess if differences in household formation are associated to differences in access to credit by estimating the impact of the cost of a mortgage on the probability that a young adult leaves his or her parents' home. Exogenous changes in the cost of credit are identified using the reform in 1998 and the cancellation in 2002 of Crédito Bonificado, a Portuguese program that provided four different reductions of the interest rate of mortgages signed by low- and medium-income youth. Using a unique data set that links administrative records of debt with the 1998-2004 waves of the Employment Survey, we document three findings. First, borrowing among young adults fell when borrowing costs increased. Second, the elasticity of new household formation with respect to net interest rates lies between - 0.8 and - 3.3. Third, young adults responded to the increase in mortgage costs by delaying home purchases or by reducing the quality of housing services purchased, but there was only a modest increase of the probability of renting a new accommodation. (JEL: D91, H24, J13) (c) 2009 by the European Economic Association.

Suggested Citation

  • Nuno Martins & Ernesto Villanueva, 2009. "Does High Cost of Mortgage Debt Explain Why Young Adults Live with Their Parents?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(5), pages 974-1010, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:7:y:2009:i:5:p:974-1010

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    Cited by:

    1. Aparicio Fenoll, Ainhoa & Oppedisano, Veruska, 2012. "Fostering the Emancipation of Young People: Evidence from a Spanish Rental Subsidy," IZA Discussion Papers 6651, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Adamopoulou, Effrosyni & Kaya, Ezgi, 2013. "Young adults living with their parents and the influence of peers," UC3M Working papers. Economics we1310, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía.
    3. Emma Tominey, 2010. "The Timing of Parental Income and Child Outcomes: The Role of Permanent and Transitory Shocks," CEE Discussion Papers 0120, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
    4. Viola Angelini & Anne Laferrère, 2013. "Parental altruism and nest leaving in Europe: evidence from a retrospective survey," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 393-420, September.
    5. Gholipour, Hassan F. & Farzanegan, Mohammad Reza, 2015. "Marriage crisis and housing costs: Empirical evidence from provinces of Iran," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 107-123.
    6. Emma Tominey, 2010. "The Timing of Parental Income and Child Outcomes: The Role of Permanent and Transitory Shocks," Discussion Papers 10/21, Department of Economics, University of York.
    7. Neil Bhutta & Daniel R. Ringo, 2017. "The Effect of Interest Rates on Home Buying : Evidence from a Discontinuity in Mortgage Insurance Premiums," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2017-086, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    8. Fessler, Pirmin & Lindner, Peter & Segalla, Esther, 2014. "Net wealth across the euro area - why household structure matters and how to control for it," Working Paper Series 1663, European Central Bank.
    9. Aparicio-Fenoll Ainhoa & Oppedisano Veruska, 2015. "Fostering Household Formation: Evidence from a Spanish Rental Subsidy," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 15(1), pages 1-32, January.
    10. Adamopoulou, Effrosyni, 2016. "Living Arrangements of the Youth: Determinants and Gender Differences/Patrones de convivencia de los jóvenes: Determinantes y diferencias por sexos," Estudios de Economía Aplicada, Estudios de Economía Aplicada, vol. 34, pages 35-44, Enero.
    11. Namkee Ahn & Virginia Sánchez-Marcos, 2017. "Emancipation under the great recession in Spain," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 477-495, June.
    12. Yilmazer Tansel & Adaman Fikret & Kaytaz Mehmet, 2012. "The Impact of Financial Development on Homeownership and Housing in Emerging Economies: Evidence from Turkey," Review of Middle East Economics and Finance, De Gruyter, vol. 8(2), pages 1-29, October.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth


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