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The impact of unsecured debt on financial distress among British households

  • Ana Del-Rí­o
  • Garry Young

This paper uses evidence from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) to examine how attitudes towards unsecured debt are related to household finances and other characteristics. An ordered-logit model is estimated for 1995 and 2000 using a self-reported indicator of financial distress as the dependent variable. This analysis suggests that the main factors causing debt problems are the unsecured debt-income ratio, the level of mortgage income gearing, the level of financial wealth of households, their health, ethnicity and marital status. While the proportion of households reporting debt problems did not change between 1995 and 2000, there were important shifts among different groups. In particular, more households in the youngest age group reported debt repayments were a heavy burden in 2000, while the opposite applies to the oldest age group where a smaller proportion of households than in 1995 reported debt was a heavy burden. These changes can largely be accounted for by the changing economic circumstances of these groups rather than an unrelated shift in attitudes. In particular, the increase in indebtedness of the young was the main factor accounting for their greater tendency to report debt problems.

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Paper provided by Bank of England in its series Bank of England working papers with number 262.

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Date of creation: May 2005
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Handle: RePEc:boe:boeewp:262
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  1. Canova, Fabio & Ciccarelli, Matteo & Ortega, Eva, 2007. "Similarities and convergence in G-7 cycles," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 850-878, April.
  2. Böheim, René & Taylor, Mark P., 2000. "My home was my castle: evictions and repossessions in Britain," ISER Working Paper Series 2000-04, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
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  4. Ana Buisán & Juan Carlos Caballero & José Manuel Campa & Noelia Jiménez, 2004. "La importancia de la histéresis en las exportaciones de manufacturas de los países de la UEM," Monetaria, Centro de Estudios Monetarios Latinoamericanos, vol. 0(2), pages 169-222, abril-jun.
  5. Andrés, Javier & López-Salido, J David & Nelson, Edward, 2004. "Tobin's Imperfect Asset Substitution in Optimizing General Equilibrium," CEPR Discussion Papers 4336, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Camacho, Maximo & Pérez-Quirós, Gabriel, 2005. "Jump-and-Rest Effects of US Business Cycles," CEPR Discussion Papers 4975, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Ana del Rio & Garry Young, 2006. "The determinants of unsecured borrowing: evidence from the BHPS," Applied Financial Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(15), pages 1119-1144.
  8. Berben, Robert-Paul & Locarno, Alberto & Morgan, Julian & Vallés, Javier, 2004. "Cross-country differences in monetary policy transmission," Working Paper Series 0400, European Central Bank.
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