IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Interest rates, debt and intertemporal allocation: evidence from notched mortgage contracts in the United Kingdom


  • Best, Michael Carlos

    (Stanford University)

  • Cloyne, James

    (Bank of England)

  • Ilzetzki, Ethan

    (London School of Economics)

  • Kleven, Henrik Jacobsen

    (London School of Economics)


Using a novel source of quasi-experimental variation in interest rates, we study the response of household debt and intertemporal consumption allocation to interest rates. We also develop a new approach to structurally estimate the Elasticity of Intertemporal Substitution (EIS). In the United Kingdom, the mortgage interest rate schedule features discrete jumps — notches — at thresholds for the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio, creating strong incentives for bunching below those thresholds. We document large and sharp bunching below every notch, which translates into sizable interest elasticities of mortgage debt, between 0.1 and 1.4 across different LTV levels. We develop a dynamic model that links these reduced-form responses to the underlying structural EIS. The EIS is much smaller and less heterogeneous than the reduced-form elasticities, between 0.05-0.25 across LTV levels and household types. We show that our structural approach is robust to a wide range of assumptions on beliefs about the future, uncertainty, risk aversion, discount factors and present bias. Our findings have implications for the numerous calibration studies in economics that rely on larger values of the EIS.

Suggested Citation

  • Best, Michael Carlos & Cloyne, James & Ilzetzki, Ethan & Kleven, Henrik Jacobsen, 2015. "Interest rates, debt and intertemporal allocation: evidence from notched mortgage contracts in the United Kingdom," Bank of England working papers 543, Bank of England.
  • Handle: RePEc:boe:boeewp:0543

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Full text
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item


    Interest rates; mortgage debt; elasticity of intertemporal substitution; notches.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E43 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Interest Rates: Determination, Term Structure, and Effects
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • R22 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Other Demand

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:boe:boeewp:0543. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    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.

    We have no bibliographic references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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 RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Digital Media Team (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.