IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Household Risk Management and Actual Mortgage Choice in the Euro Area

  • Michael Ehrmann


  • Michael Ziegelmeyer


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.

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:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Central Bank of Luxembourg in its series BCL working papers with number 84.

in new window

Date of creation: Jan 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bcl:bclwop:bclwp084
Contact details of provider: Web page:

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. Olympia Bover, 2008. "The dynamics of household income and wealth: results from the panel of the Spanish Survey of Household Finances (EFF) 2002-2005," Occasional Papers 0810, Banco de España;Occasional Papers Homepage.
  2. Laurent E. Calvet & John Y. Campbell & Paolo Sodini, 2007. "Down or Out: Assessing the Welfare Costs of Household Investment Mistakes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(5), pages 707-747, October.
  3. Olivier Coibion & Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Lorenz Kueng & John Silvia, 2012. "Innocent Bystanders? Monetary Policy and Inequality in the U.S," NBER Working Papers 18170, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. John Y. Campbell & João F. Cocco, 2003. "Household Risk Management and Optimal Mortgage Choice," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1449-1494.
  5. Easterly, William & Fischer, Stanley, 2000. "Inflation and the poor," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2335, The World Bank.
  6. Stefania Albanesi, 2002. "Inflation and Inequality," Macroeconomics 0201002, EconWPA.
  7. Gary Solon & Steven J. Haider & Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 2015. "What Are We Weighting For?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(2), pages 301-316.
  8. Dimitris Christelis & Dimitris Georgarakos & Michael Haliassos, 2013. "Differences in Portfolios across Countries: Economic Environment versus Household Characteristics," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(1), pages 220-236, March.
  9. Cunningham, Donald F & Capone, Charles A, Jr, 1990. " The Relative Termination Experience of Adjustable to Fixed-Rate Mortgages," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 45(5), pages 1687-1703, December.
  10. Matthias Doepke & Martin Schneider, 2006. "Inflation and the Redistribution of Nominal Wealth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(6), pages 1069-1097, December.
  11. Sander Harald & Kleimeier Stefanie, 2003. "Convergence in Eurozone retail banking? What interest rate pass-through tells us about monetary policy transmission, competition and integration," Research Memorandum 051, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
  12. Magee, L. & Robb, A. L. & Burbidge, J. B., 1998. "On the use of sampling weights when estimating regression models with survey data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 251-271, June.
  13. Kleimeier, Stefanie & Sander, Harald, 2006. "Expected versus unexpected monetary policy impulses and interest rate pass-through in euro-zone retail banking markets," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(7), pages 1839-1870, July.
  14. Dhillon, Upinder S & Shilling, James D & Sirmans, C F, 1987. "Choosing between Fixed and Adjustable Rate Mortgages: A Note," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 19(2), pages 260-67, May.
  15. Olympia Bover & Jose Maria Casado & Sonia Costa & Philip Du Caju & Yvonne McCarthy & Eva Sierminska & Panagiota Tzamourani & Ernesto Villanueva & Tibor Zavadil, 2013. "The distribution of debt across euro area countries: The role of individual characteristics, institutions and credit conditions," Working Paper Research 252, National Bank of Belgium.
  16. Brahima Coulibaly & Geng Li, 2007. "Choice of mortgage contracts: evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2007-50, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  17. Brueckner, Jan K & Follain, James R, 1988. "The Rise and Fall of the ARM: An Econometric Analysis of Mortgage Choice," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(1), pages 93-102, February.
  18. Philomena M. Bacon & Peter G. Moffatt, 2012. "Mortgage Choice as a Natural Field Experiment on Choice under Risk," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 44(7), pages 1401-1426, October.
  19. Claudia Biancotti & Giovanni D'Alessio & Andrea Neri, 2008. "Measurement Error In The Bank Of Italy'S Survey Of Household Income And Wealth," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 54(3), pages 466-493, 09.
  20. Ivan Faiella, 2010. "The use of survey weights in regression analysis," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 739, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  21. James Vickery, 2007. "Interest rates and consumer choice in the residential mortgage market: a summary," Proceedings 1041, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  22. Sa-Aadu, J & Sirmans, C F, 1995. "Differentiated Contracts, Heterogeneous Borrowers, and the Mortgage Choice Decision," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(2), pages 498-510, May.
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:bcl:bclwop:bclwp084. 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: ()

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.