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Behavioural characteristics and financial distress

  • McCarthy, Yvonne

Using a new nationally representative survey of financial capability and experience in the UK and Ireland, I investigate the key factors that cause individuals to experience financial distress. In this context, a key area that I focus on is whether individuals’ behavioural traits, such as their capacities for self-control, planning, and patience, affect their ability to stay out of financial trouble. I find that the variables that proxy for these behavioural characteristics are both statistically significant and economically important for predicting both mild and extreme forms of financial distress, in a regression controlling for demographic and socio-economic factors. Furthermore, behavioural traits emerge as having a stronger impact on the incidence of financial distress than education or financial literacy. The results raise questions about whether policy can be oriented towards improving financial habits and mitigating the impact of behavioural characteristics on personal finances. JEL Classification: C25, D14

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Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 1303.

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Date of creation: Feb 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20111303
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  1. John Ameriks & Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2002. "Wealth Accumulation and the Propensity to Plan," NBER Working Papers 8920, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Annamaria Lusardi & Peter Tufano, 2009. "Debt Literacy, Financial Experiences, and Overindebtedness," CeRP Working Papers 83, Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy).
  3. Boheim, Rene & Taylor, Mark P., 2000. "My Home Was My Castle: Evictions and Repossessions in Britain," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 287-319, December.
  4. Victor Stango & Jonathan Zinman, 2009. "Exponential Growth Bias and Household Finance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 64(6), pages 2807-2849, December.
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