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Credit card debt and consumer payment choice: what can we learn from credit bureau data?

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  • Stavins, Joanna

    () (Federal Reserve Bank of Boston)

Abstract

We estimate a two-stage Heckman selection model of credit card adoption and use with a unique dataset that combines administrative data from the Equifax credit bureau and self-reported data from the Survey of Consumer Payment Choice, a representative survey of US consumers. Even though the survey data from the borrowers vary somewhat from the data provided by the lenders, the results based on the merged data are qualitatively similar to those based exclusively on self-reported surveys. This finding suggests that if administrative data are not available, it might be sufficient to use survey data to estimate consumer behavior. We find that credit card revolvers have lower income and are less educated than other cardholders. Although consumers who carry credit card debt might be liquidity constrained and not have cheaper borrowing alternatives, the high cost of paying off credit card debt could exacerbate existing inequalities in disposable income among consumers.

Suggested Citation

  • Stavins, Joanna, 2018. "Credit card debt and consumer payment choice: what can we learn from credit bureau data?," Working Papers 18-7, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:18-7
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. James J. Heckman, 1976. "The Common Structure of Statistical Models of Truncation, Sample Selection and Limited Dependent Variables and a Simple Estimator for Such Models," NBER Chapters,in: Annals of Economic and Social Measurement, Volume 5, number 4, pages 475-492 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Fulford, Scott L. & Schuh, Scott, 2017. "Credit card utilization and consumption over the life cycle and business cycle," Working Papers 17-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    3. Brown, Meta & Haughwout, Andrew F. & Lee, Donghoon & Van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2015. "Do we know what we owe? Consumer debt as reported by borrowers and lenders," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue 21-1, pages 19-44.
    4. Kenneth P. Brevoort, 2011. "Credit Card Redlining Revisited," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 714-724, May.
    5. David B. Gross, 2002. "An Empirical Analysis of Personal Bankruptcy and Delinquency," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 15(1), pages 319-347, March.
    6. Shubhasis Dey & Gene Mumy, 2005. "Determinants of Borrowing Limits on Credit Cards," Staff Working Papers 05-7, Bank of Canada.
    7. Sergei Koulayev & Marc Rysman & Scott Schuh & Joanna Stavins, 2016. "Explaining adoption and use of payment instruments by US consumers," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 47(2), pages 293-325, May.
    8. Jonathan Zinman, 2009. "Where Is The Missing Credit Card Debt? Clues And Implications," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 55(2), pages 249-265, June.
    9. Edward Castronova & Paul Hagstrom, 2004. "The Demand for Credit Cards: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 42(2), pages 304-318, April.
    10. Ching, Andrew T. & Hayashi, Fumiko, 2010. "Payment card rewards programs and consumer payment choice," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(8), pages 1773-1787, August.
    11. Schuh, Scott & Stavins, Joanna, 2010. "Why are (some) consumers (finally) writing fewer checks? The role of payment characteristics," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(8), pages 1745-1758, August.
    12. Paula Lopes, 2008. "Credit Card Debt and Default over the Life Cycle," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 40(4), pages 769-790, June.
    13. Marc Rysman, 2007. "AN EMPIRICAL ANALYSIS OF PAYMENT CARD USAGE -super-," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(1), pages 1-36, March.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    credit card debt; consumer payments; consumer preferences;

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages

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