Borrowing during unemployment: unsecured debt as a safety net
Over the past two decades, U.S. consumers have increasingly relied on unsecured debt to finance consumption. The growth in unsecured debt has been particularly striking for low-income households. Some researchers have suggested that poor households use this debt to smooth consumption intertemporally, implying that these credit markets effectively serve as a safety net for disadvantaged households. This paper examines whether unsecured credit markets do, in fact, play an important role in the ability of disadvantaged households to supplement unemployment-induced earnings losses. I use panel data from two nationally representative surveys to address the two central questions of this paper. First, I consider whether households rely on unsecured credit markets to supplement temporary shortfalls in earnings. While I find no evidence that low-asset households borrow in response to these shortfalls, I show that households with assets do borrow. ; Among these households with assets, borrowing is particularly responsive to these idiosyncratic shocks for younger and less-educated households. The second question I consider is why low-asset households do not borrow. I provide evidence that they are not supplementing these lost earning via other income sources, showing that consumption falls in response to these earnings shortfalls. I also show that the borrowing and consumption behavior of low-asset households is different from other households. While some other explanations cannot be ruled out, the evidence presented here suggests that low-asset households do not have sufficient access to unsecured credit to help smooth consumption in response to transitory income shocks.
To our knowledge, this item is not available for
download. To find whether it is available, there are three
1. Check below under "Related research" whether another version of this item is available online.
2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.
|Date of creation:||2005|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||Published in Proceedings of a conference held in Washington, DC. (2005 : April 7-8) : a Federal Reserve System Community Affairs Reseach Conference; Promises & Pitfalls: as Consumer Finance Options Multiply, Who Is Being Served and at What Cost?|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: P.O. Box 834, 230 South LaSalle Street, Chicago, Illinois 60690-0834|
Web page: http://www.chicagofed.org/
More information through EDIRC
|Order Information:|| Web: http://www.chicagofed.org/webpages/publications/print_publication_order_form.cfm Email: |
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.:
- Garcia, Rene & Lusardi, Annamaria & Ng, Serena, 1997.
"Excess Sensitivity and Asymmetries in Consumption: An Empirical Investigation,"
Journal of Money, Credit and Banking,
Blackwell Publishing, vol. 29(2), pages 154-76, May.
- René Garcia & Serena Ng & Annamaria Lusardi, 1995. "Excess Sensitivity and Asymmetries in Consumption: An Empirical Investigation," CIRANO Working Papers 95s-09, CIRANO.
- Garcia, R. & Lusardi, A. & Ng, S., 1995. "Excess Sensitivity and Asymmetries in Consumption: An Empirical Investigation," Cahiers de recherche 9511, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
- Garcia, R. & Lusardi, A. & Ng, S., 1995. "Excess Sensitivity and Asymmetries in Consumption: an Empirical Investigation," Cahiers de recherche 9511, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
- Martin Browning & Annamaria Lusardi, 1995.
"Household Saving: Micro Theories and Micro Facts,"
Department of Economics Working Papers
1995-02, McMaster University.
- Christopher D. Carroll & Karen E. Dynan & Spencer D. Krane, 1999.
"Unemployment risk and precautionary wealth: evidence from households' balance sheets,"
Finance and Economics Discussion Series
1999-15, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
- Christopher D. Carroll & Karen E. Dynan & Spencer D. Krane, 2003. "Unemployment Risk and Precautionary Wealth: Evidence from Households' Balance Sheets," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(3), pages 586-604, August.
- Christopher D Carroll & Karen E Dynan & Spencer D Krane, 1999. "Unemployment Risk and Precautionary Wealth: Evidence from Households' Balance Sheets," Economics Working Paper Archive 416, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
- Melvin Stephens, 2001. "The Long-Run Consumption Effects Of Earnings Shocks," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 28-36, February.
- Martin Feldstein & Daniel Altman, 2007.
"Unemployment Insurance Savings Accounts,"
in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 21, pages 35-64
National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- David B. Gross & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2002. "Do Liquidity Constraints and Interest Rates Matter for Consumer Behavior? Evidence from Credit Card Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(1), pages 149-185.
- Cullen, Julie Berry & Gruber, Jonathan, 2000. "Does Unemployment Insurance Crowd Out Spousal Labor Supply?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 546-72, July.
- Tullio Jappelli, 1990. "Who is Credit Constrained in the U. S. Economy?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(1), pages 219-234.
- Bruce D. Meyer & James X. Sullivan, 2003. "Measuring the Well-Being of the Poor Using Income and Consumption," NBER Working Papers 9760, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Stevens, Ann Huff, 1997. "Persistent Effects of Job Displacement: The Importance of Multiple Job Losses," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 165-88, January.
- Nicholas S. Souleles, 1999. "The Response of Household Consumption to Income Tax Refunds," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 947-958, September.
- Edelberg, Wendy, 2006. "Risk-based pricing of interest rates for consumer loans," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(8), pages 2283-2298, November.
- Marjorie A. Flavin, 1991. "The Joint Consumption/Asset Demand Decision: A Case Study in Robust Estimation," NBER Working Papers 3802, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Steven J. Davis & Felix Kubler & Paul Willen, 2006.
"Borrowing Costs and the Demand for Equity over the Life Cycle,"
The Review of Economics and Statistics,
MIT Press, vol. 88(2), pages 348-362, May.
- Steven J. Davis & Felix Kubler & Paul S. Willen, 2005. "Borrowing costs and the demand for equity over the life cycle," Working Papers 05-7, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
- Steven J. Davis & Felix Kubler & Paul Willen, 2002. "Borrowing Costs and the Demand for Equity Over the Life Cycle," NBER Working Papers 9331, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Stephen Zeldes, .
"Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation,"
Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers
24-85, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
- Zeldes, Stephen P, 1989. "Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(2), pages 305-46, April.
- Stephen P. Zeldes, . "Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 16-88, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
- Samuel Bentolila & Andrea Ichino, 2008. "Unemployment and consumption near and far away from the Mediterranean," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 21(2), pages 255-280, April.
- Athreya, Kartik B., 2002. "Welfare implications of the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1999," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(8), pages 1567-1595, November.
- Edward J. Bird & Paul A. Hagstrom & Robert Wild & Janet A. Weiss, 1999. "Credit card debts of the poor: High and rising," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(1), pages 125-133.
- Hans G. Bloemen & Elena G. F. Stancanelli, 2005. "Financial Wealth, Consumption Smoothing and Income Shocks Arising from Job Loss," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 72(3), pages 431-452, 08.
- Christopher D. Carroll, 1997. "Buffer-Stock Saving and the Life Cycle/Permanent Income Hypothesis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 1-55.
- Engelhardt, Gary V, 1996. "Consumption, Down Payments, and Liquidity Constraints," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 28(2), pages 255-71, May.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedhpr:958. 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: (Bernie Flores)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.