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Credit card debt and default over the life-cycle

  • Paula Lopes
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    This paper solves an empirically parameterised model of life-cycle consumption which extends the precautionary savings models of Carroll (1997), and Deaton (1991), to allow for uncollaterized borrowing and default. In case households choose to default: (i) their access to credit markets is restricted; (ii) lenders of funds may seize their financial assets above an exemption level, and up to the amount of outstanding debt; and (iii) there is a “stigma effect,” or a decrease in current utility caused by the social embarrassment of declaring bankruptcy. The model shows that the decisions to borrow and default are closely related to the shape of the life-cycle labor income profile, and henceforth vary across household education levels. Moreover, the model explains two puzzling empirical facts: (a) why bankruptcy rates have been growing in periods of economic expansion and low unemployment; and, (b) why households hold simultaneously high cost debt and low return assets.

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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/24869/
    File Function: Open access version.
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    Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 24869.

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    Length: 42 pages
    Date of creation: Nov 2003
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:24869
    Contact details of provider: Postal: LSE Library Portugal Street London, WC2A 2HD, U.K.
    Phone: +44 (020) 7405 7686
    Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/

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    1. Kehoe, Timothy J & Levine, David K, 2001. "Liquidity Constrained Markets versus Debt Constrained Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(3), pages 575-98, May.
    2. Tauchen, George & Hussey, Robert, 1991. "Quadrature-Based Methods for Obtaining Approximate Solutions to Nonlinear Asset Pricing Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(2), pages 371-96, March.
    3. Narayana Kocherlakota, 2010. "Implications of Efficient Risk Sharing Without Commitment," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2053, David K. Levine.
    4. Christopher D Carroll, 1990. "Buffer-Stock Saving and the Life Cycle/Permanent Income Hypothesis," Economics Working Paper Archive 371, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics, revised Aug 1996.
    5. David Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 2000. "A Debt Puzzle," Documentos de Trabajo 80, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
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