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Household Debt and Income Inequality, 1963-2003

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  • Matteo Iacoviello

    () (Boston College)

Abstract

I construct an economy with heterogeneous agents that mimics the time-series behavior of the earnings distribution in the United States from 1963 to 2003. Agents face aggregate and idiosyncratic shocks and accumulate real and financial assets. I estimate the shocks that drive the model using data on income inequality, aggregate income, and measures of financial liberalization. I show how the model economy can replicate two empirical facts: the trend and cyclical behavior of household debt, and the diverging patterns in consumption and wealth inequality over time. While business cycle fluctuations can account for the short-run changes in household debt, its prolonged rise of the 1980s and the 1990s can be quantitatively explained only by the concurrent increase in income inequality.

Suggested Citation

  • Matteo Iacoviello, 2005. "Household Debt and Income Inequality, 1963-2003," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 629, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 18 Oct 2007.
  • Handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:629
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Credit constraints; Incomplete Markets; Income Inequality; Household Debt;

    JEL classification:

    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • R21 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Housing Demand

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