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Triggers and Determinants of Severe Household Indebtedness in Germany

  • Matthias Keese
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    Overindebted private households have created economic and political concern. Using measures of relative (over-) indebtedness which relate household income and debt services to different concepts of subsistence levels, this paper investigates whether severe household indebtedness is driven by trigger events such as unemployment, childbirth, divorce, or the death of the partner. Exploiting the panel structure of the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), the results suggest that children are likely to cause severe household indebtedness. Unemployment also worsens the relative debt situation mainly due to the associated income drop. Strokes of fate have no direct effect but if they come along with changes in household composition, the associated income shock increases the financial fragility of the household. Furthermore, a main determinant of relative overindebtedness is a home loan which raises doubts about whether families are indeed able to manage their housing finance.

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    Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 239.

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    Length: 26 p.
    Date of creation: 2009
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp239
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    1. John Y. Campbell, 2006. "Household Finance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(4), pages 1553-1604, 08.
    2. Lusardi, Annamaria & Tufano, Peter, 2009. "Debt literacy, financial experiences, and overindebtedness," CFS Working Paper Series 2009/08, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
    3. Silvia Magri, 2002. "Italian households' debt: determinants of demand and supply," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 454, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    4. Christa Fricke & Detlev Österreich & Eva Schulze & Gert G. Wagner, 2007. "Überschuldung ist ein Problem fehlender Netzwerke," DIW Wochenbericht, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 74(7), pages 95-100.
    5. Ana Del-Rí­o & Garry Young, 2005. "The determinants of unsecured borrowing: evidence from the British Household Panel Survey," Bank of England working papers 263, Bank of England.
    6. David Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 2000. "A Debt Puzzle," Documentos de Trabajo 80, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
    7. Ana del Río & Garry Young, 2005. "The impact of unsecured debt on financial distress among British households," Banco de Espa�a Working Papers 0512, Banco de Espa�a.
    8. DeVaney, Sharon A. & Lytton, Ruth H., 1995. "Household insolvency: A review of household debt repayment, delinquency, and bankruptcy," Financial Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 137-156.
    9. Gianni Betti & Neil Dourmashkin & Mariacristina Rossi & Ya Ping Yin, 2007. "Consumer over-indebtedness in the EU: measurement and characteristics," Journal of Economic Studies, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 34(2), pages 136-156, May.
    10. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP): Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    11. Sarah Brown & Karl Taylor, 2008. "Household debt and financial assets: evidence from Germany, Great Britain and the USA," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 171(3), pages 615-643.
    12. Sarah Bridges & Richard Disney, 2004. "Use of credit and arrears on debt among low-income families in the United Kingdom," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 25(1), pages 1-25, March.
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