IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The rise in U.S. household indebtedness: causes and consequences

  • Karen E. Dynan
  • Donald L. Kohn
Registered author(s):

    The ratio of total household debt to aggregate personal income in the United States has risen from an average of 0.6 in the 1980s to an average of 1.0 so far this decade. In this paper we explore the causes and consequences of this dramatic increase. Demographic shifts, house price increases, and financial innovation all appear to have contributed to the rise. Households have become more exposed to shocks to asset prices through the greater leverage in their balance sheets, and more exposed to unexpected changes in income and interest rates because of higher debt payments relative to income. At the same time, an increase in access to credit and higher levels of assets should give households, on average, a greater ability to smooth through shocks. We conclude by discussing some of the risks associated with some households having become very highly indebted relative to their assets.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL: http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/feds/2007/200737/200737abs.html
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/feds/2007/200737/200737pap.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2007-37.

    as
    in new window

    Length:
    Date of creation: 2007
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2007-37
    Contact details of provider: Postal: 20th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20551
    Web page: http://www.federalreserve.gov/

    More information through EDIRC

    Order Information: Web: http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/feds/fedsorder.html

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as in new window
    1. Chris Carroll & Wendy Dunn, 1997. "Unemployment Expectations, Jumping (S,s) Triggers, and Household Balance Sheets," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 165-230 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Carroll, Christopher D. & Otsuka, Misuzu & Slacalek, Jirka, 2006. "How large is the housing wealth effect? A new approach," CFS Working Paper Series 2006/35, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
    3. Karl E. Case & John M. Quigley & Robert J. Shiller, 2001. "Comparing Wealth Effects: The Stock Market versus the Housing Market," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1335, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    4. Kristopher Gerardi & Harvey S. Rosen & Paul Willen, 2007. "Do Households Benefit from Financial Deregulation and Innovation? The Case of the Mortgage Market," Working Papers 61, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
    5. Gale, William & Pence, Karen, 2006. "Are Successive Generations Getting Wealthier, and If So, Why?Evidence from the 1990s," MPRA Paper 55502, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. B. Douglas Bernheim & Jonathan Skinner & Steven Weinberg, 1997. "What Accounts for the Variation in Retirement Wealth Among U.S. Households?," Working Papers 97035, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
    7. Amromin, Gene & Huang, Jennifer & Sialm, Clemens, 2007. "The tradeoff between mortgage prepayments and tax-deferred retirement savings," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(10), pages 2014-2040, November.
    8. Johnson Kathleen W., 2007. "The Transactions Demand for Credit Cards," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-33, March.
    9. John Karl Scholz & Ananth Seshadri & Surachai Khitatrakun, 2006. "Are Americans Saving "Optimally" for Retirement?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(4), pages 607-643, August.
    10. Glenn Canner & Karen Dynan & Wayne Passmore, 2002. "Mortgage refinancing in 2001 and early 2002," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Dec, pages 469-481.
    11. Karen E. Dynan & Douglas W. Elmendorf & Daniel E. Sichel, 2005. "Can financial innovation help to explain the reduced volatility of economic activity?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2005-54, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    12. Guy Debelle, 2004. "Macroeconomic implications of rising household debt," BIS Working Papers 153, Bank for International Settlements.
    13. James W. Kolari & Donald R. Fraser & Ali Anari, 1998. "The Effects of Securitization on Mortgage Market Yields: A Cointegration Analysis," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 26(4), pages 677-693.
    14. David A. Love & Paul A. Smith & Lucy C. McNair, 2007. "Do households have enough wealth for retirement?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2007-17, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    15. Ortalo-Magné, François & Rady, Sven, 2005. "Housing Market Dynamics: On the Contribution of Income Shocks and Credit Constraint," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 50, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
    16. Edelberg, Wendy, 2006. "Risk-based pricing of interest rates for consumer loans," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(8), pages 2283-2298, November.
    17. Karen Dynan & Kathleen Johnson & Karen Pence, 2003. "Recent changes to a measure of U.S. household debt service," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Oct, pages 417-426.
    18. Rothberg, James P & Nothaft, Frank E & Gabriel, Stuart A, 1989. "On the Determinants of Yield Spreads between Mortgage Pass-Through and Treasury Securities," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 2(4), pages 301-15, December.
    19. Kathleen W. Johnson & Geng Li, 2007. "Do high debt payments hinder household consumption smoothing?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2007-52, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    20. Morris A. Davis & Michael G. Palumbo, 2001. "A primer on the economics and time series econometrics of wealth effects," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2001-09, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    21. Alan Greenspan & James Kennedy, 2007. "Sources and uses of equity extracted from homes," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2007-20, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    22. Eric M. Engen & William G. Gale & Cori E. Uccello, 2004. "Lifetime Earnings, Social Security Benefits, and the Adequacy of Retirement Wealth Accumulation," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2004-10, Center for Retirement Research, revised Apr 2004.
    23. Karen M. Pence, 2002. "Nature or nurture: why do 401(k) participants save differently than other workers?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2002-33, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    24. Tom Hertz, 2007. "Changes in the Volatility of Household Income in the United States: A Regional Analysis," Working Papers 2007-17, American University, Department of Economics.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2007-37. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Kris Vajs)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.