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Household Risk Management and Actual Mortgage Choice in the Euro Area

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  • Michael Ehrmann

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  • Michael Ziegelmeyer

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Abstract

Mortgages constitute the largest part of household debt. An essential choice when taking out a mortgage is between fixed-interest-rate mortgages (FRMs) and adjustable-interest-rate mortgages (ARMs). However, so far, no comprehensive cross-country study has analyzed what determines household demand for mortgage types, a task that this paper takes up using new data for the euro area. Our results support the hypothesis of Campbell and Cocco (2003) that the decision is best described as one of household risk management: income volatility reduces the take-out of ARMs, while increasing duration and relative size of the mortgages increase it. Controlling for other supply factors through country fixed effects, loan pricing also matters, as expected, with ARMs becoming more attractive when yield spreads rise. The paper also conducts a simulation exercise to identify how the easing of monetary policy during the financial crisis affected mortgage holders. It shows that the resulting reduction in mortgage rates produced a substantial decline in debt burdens among mortgage-holding households, especially in countries where households have higher debt burdens and a larger share of ARMs, as well as for some disadvantaged groups of households, such as those with low income.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Ehrmann & Michael Ziegelmeyer, 2014. "Household Risk Management and Actual Mortgage Choice in the Euro Area," BCL working papers 84, Central Bank of Luxembourg.
  • Handle: RePEc:bcl:bclwop:bclwp084
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    Cited by:

    1. Bouyon, Sylvain, 2017. "Recent Trends and Developments in European Mortgage Markets," ECRI Papers 12596, Centre for European Policy Studies.
    2. Philip Du Caju & François Rycx & Ilan Tojerow, 2015. "Unemployment Risk and Over-indebtedness A Micro-econometric Perspective," Working Papers CEB 15-046, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    3. Hancock, Diana & Passmore, Wayne, 2016. "Cost of funds indexed mortgage contracts with government-backed catastrophic insurance (COFI-Cats): A realistic alternative to the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage?," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 109-130.
    4. Ampudia, Miguel & van Vlokhoven, Has & Żochowski, Dawid, 2016. "Financial fragility of euro area households," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 250-262.
    5. Michael Richter, 2017. "Asymmetric Effects on Financial Cycles in a Monetary Union with Diverging Country Preferences for Variable- and Fixed-Rate Mortgages," Review of Economics & Finance, Better Advances Press, Canada, vol. 7, pages 19-36, February.
    6. Martin Brown & Benjamin Suman Guin, 2015. "The Exposure of Mortgage Borrowers to Interest Rate Risk and House Price Risk – Evidence from Swiss Loan Application Data," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 151(II), pages 3-37, June.
    7. Du Caju, Philip & Rycx, François & Tojerow, Ilan, 2016. "Unemployment risk and over-indebtedness," Working Paper Series 1908, European Central Bank.
    8. Christoph Basten & Benjamin Guin & Cathérine Tahmee Koch, 2017. "How Do Banks and Households Manage Interest Rate Risk? Evidence from the Swiss Mortgage Market," CESifo Working Paper Series 6649, CESifo Group Munich.
    9. Margarita Rubio & Mariarosaria Comunale, 2017. "Lithuania in the Euro Area: Monetary Transmission and Macroprudential Policies," Eastern European Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 55(1), pages 29-49, January.
    10. Stefan Jestl & Mario Holzner & Sebastian Leitner, 2015. "Immobilienvermögen und Hypothekarverschuldung der Haushalte im Europavergleich," Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft - WuG, Kammer für Arbeiter und Angestellte für Wien, Abteilung Wirtschaftswissenschaft und Statistik, vol. 41(1), pages 49-70.
    11. Ampudia, Miguel & Pavlickova, Akmaral & Slacalek, Jiri & Vogel, Edgar, 2016. "Household heterogeneity in the euro area since the onset of the Great Recession," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 181-197.
    12. Brown, Martin & Guin, Benjamin, 2015. "The Exposure of Mortgage Borrowers to Interest Rate Risk, Income Risk and House Price Risk – Evidence from Swiss Loan Application Data," Working Papers on Finance 1509, University of St. Gallen, School of Finance.
    13. Mario Holzner & Stefan Jestl, 2015. "Of proprietors and proletarians," Working Paper Reihe der AK Wien - Materialien zu Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft 141, Kammer für Arbeiter und Angestellte für Wien, Abteilung Wirtschaftswissenschaft und Statistik.
    14. Petra Gerlach-Kristen & Seán Lyons, 2015. "Mortgage arrears in Europe: The impact of monetary and macroprudential policies," Working Papers 2015-05, Swiss National Bank.

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    Keywords

    Length: 39 pages;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • E43 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Interest Rates: Determination, Term Structure, and Effects
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages

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