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Who invests in home equity to exempt wealth from bankruptcy?

  • Corradin, Stefano
  • Gropp, Reint
  • Huizinga, Harry
  • Laeven, Luc

Homestead exemptions to personal bankruptcy allow households to retain their home equity up to a limit determined at the state level. Households that may experience bankruptcy thus have an incentive to bias their portfolios towards home equity. Using US household data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation for the period 1996-2006, we find that especially households with low net worth maintain a larger share of their wealth as home equity if a larger homestead exemption applies. This home equity bias is also more pronounced if the household head is in poor health, increasing the chance of bankruptcy on account of unpaid medical bills. The bias is further stronger for households with mortgage finance, shorter house tenures, and younger household heads, which taken together reflect households that face more financial uncertainty. JEL Classification: G11, K35, R21

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Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 1337.

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Date of creation: May 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20111337
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  2. Maria Concetta Chiuri & Tullio Jappelli, 2000. "Financial Market Imperfections and Home Ownership: A Comparative Study," CSEF Working Papers 44, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy, revised 01 Dec 2000.
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