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Moral and Social Constraints to Strategic Default on Mortgages

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  • Guiso, Luigi
  • Sapienza, Paola
  • Zingales, Luigi

Abstract

We use survey data to study American households’ propensity to default when the value of their mortgage exceeds the value of their house even if they can afford to pay their mortgage (strategic default). We find that 26% of the existing defaults are strategic. We also find that no household would default if the equity shortfall is less than 10% of the value of the house. Yet, 17% of households would default, even if they can afford to pay their mortgage, when the equity shortfall reaches 50% of the value of their house. Besides relocation costs, the most important variables in predicting strategic default are moral and social considerations. Ceteris paribus, people who consider it immoral to default are at 77% less likely to declare their intention to do so, while people who know someone who defaulted are 82% more likely to declare their intention to do so. The willingness to default increases nonlinearly with the proportion of foreclosures in the same ZIP code. That moral attitudes toward default do not change with the percentage of foreclosures is likely to derive from a contagion effect that reduces the social stigma associated with default as defaults become more common.

Suggested Citation

  • Guiso, Luigi & Sapienza, Paola & Zingales, Luigi, 2009. "Moral and Social Constraints to Strategic Default on Mortgages," CEPR Discussion Papers 7352, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7352
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kristopher S. Gerardi & Adam Hale Shapiro & Paul S. Willen, 2007. "Subprime outcomes: risky mortgages, homeownership experiences, and foreclosures," Working Papers 07-15, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
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    3. Patrick Bajari & Chenghuan Sean Chu & Minjung Park, 2008. "An Empirical Model of Subprime Mortgage Default From 2000 to 2007," NBER Working Papers 14625, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    5. Quigley, John M & Van Order, Robert, 1995. "Explicit Tests of Contingent Claims Models of Mortgage Default," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 99-117, September.
    6. Yongheng Deng & John M. Quigley & Robert Van Order, 2000. "Mortgage Terminations, Heterogeneity and the Exercise of Mortgage Options," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(2), pages 275-308, March.
    7. Atif Mian & Amir Sufi, 2009. "The Consequences of Mortgage Credit Expansion: Evidence from the U.S. Mortgage Default Crisis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1449-1496.
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    Cited by:

    1. Campbell, Gareth, 2010. "Leveraging the British Railway Mania: Derivatives for the Individual Investor," MPRA Paper 21822, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Daniel Rösch & Harald Scheule, 2011. "Securitization rating performance and agency incentives," BIS Papers chapters,in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Portfolio and risk management for central banks and sovereign wealth funds, volume 58, pages 287-314 Bank for International Settlements.
    3. Kangoh Lee, 2017. "Norms and monetary fines as deterrents, and distributive effects," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 121(1), pages 1-27, May.
    4. Demyanyk, Yuliya, 2017. "The impact of missed payments and foreclosures on credit scores," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 108-119.
    5. John H. Beck & Donald D. Hackney & John Hackney & Matthew Q. McPherson, 2014. "Regional Differences in Chapter 13 Filings: Southern Legal Culture or Religion?," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 72(2), pages 186-208, June.
    6. Valletta, Robert G., 2013. "House lock and structural unemployment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 86-97.
    7. Yuan Cheng & Xuehui Han, 2013. "Does large volatility help?—stochastic population forecasting technology in explaining real estate price process," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(1), pages 323-356, January.
    8. Xin, Guangyi, 2017. "Trust and Economic Performance: A Panel Study," MPRA Paper 80815, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Tracy, Joseph & Wright, Joshua, 2016. "Payment changes and default risk: The impact of refinancing on expected credit losses," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 60-70.
    10. Shai Bernstein & Timothy McQuade & Richard R. Townsend, 2017. "Do Household Wealth Shocks Affect Productivity? Evidence from Innovative Workers During the Great Recession," NBER Working Papers 24011, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Michael J. Seiler & David M. Harrison, 2011. "Perceived Versus Actual Susceptibility to Normative Influence in the Presence of DefaultingLandlords," Review of Behavioral Finance, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 3(2), pages 55-77, September.
    12. John Y. Campbell, 2013. "Mortgage Market Design," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 17(1), pages 1-33.
    13. Chan, Sewin & Gedal, Michael & Been, Vicki & Haughwout, Andrew, 2013. "The role of neighborhood characteristics in mortgage default risk: Evidence from New York City," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 100-118.
    14. John Y. Campbell & João F. Cocco, 2015. "A Model of Mortgage Default," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 70(4), pages 1495-1554, August.
    15. Khandani, Amir E. & Lo, Andrew W. & Merton, Robert C., 2013. "Systemic risk and the refinancing ratchet effect," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(1), pages 29-45.
    16. Bechlioulis, Alexandros & Brissimis, Sophocles, 2014. "Consumer default and optimal consumption decisions," MPRA Paper 56864, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. Eugene Amromin & Jennifer Huang & Clemens Sialm & Edward Zhong, 2010. "Complex mortgages," Working Paper Series WP-2010-17, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    18. Børsum, Øystein, 2010. "Contagious Mortgage Default," Memorandum 10/2010, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
    19. repec:eee:regeco:v:67:y:2017:i:c:p:108-118 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Andersson, Fredrik & Mayock, Tom, 2014. "How does home equity affect mobility?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 23-39.
    21. Connor, Gregory & Flavin, Thomas, 2015. "Strategic, unaffordability and dual-trigger default in the Irish mortgage market," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 59-75.
    22. repec:eee:jfinin:v:30:y:2017:i:c:p:50-60 is not listed on IDEAS
    23. Benjamin J. Keys & Tomasz Piskorski & Amit Seru & Vikrant Vig, 2012. "Mortgage Financing in the Housing Boom and Bust," NBER Chapters,in: Housing and the Financial Crisis, pages 143-204 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    24. Jochen R. Andritzky, 2014. "Resolving Residential Mortgage Distress; Time to Modify?," IMF Working Papers 14/226, International Monetary Fund.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    foreclosure; moral constraint; mortgage; social constraint; strategic default;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G18 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G33 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Bankruptcy; Liquidation

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