IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act: means-testing or mean spirited?


  • Adam B. Ashcraft
  • Astrid A. Dick
  • Donald P. Morgan


Thousands of U.S. households filed for bankruptcy just before the bankruptcy law changed in 2005. That rush-to-file was more pronounced, we find, in states with more generous bankruptcy exemptions and lower credit scores. We take that finding as evidence that the new law effectively reduces exemptions, which in turn should reduce the ?demand? for bankruptcy and the resulting losses to suppliers of consumer credit. We expect the savings to suppliers will be shared with borrowers by way of lower credit card rates, although credit card spreads have not yet fallen. If cheaper credit is the upside of the new law, the downside is reduced bankruptcy ?insurance? against bad luck. The overall impact of the new law on the average household depends on how one weighs those two sides.

Suggested Citation

  • Adam B. Ashcraft & Astrid A. Dick & Donald P. Morgan, 2007. "The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act: means-testing or mean spirited?," Staff Reports 279, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:279

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Reint Gropp & John Karl Scholz & Michelle J. White, 1997. "Personal Bankruptcy and Credit Supply and Demand," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 217-251.
    2. Christopher R. Knittel & Victor Stango, 2003. "Price Ceilings as Focal Points for Tacit Collusion: Evidence from Credit Cards," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1703-1729, December.
    3. John Armour & Douglas Cumming, 2008. "Bankruptcy Law and Entrepreneurship," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(2), pages 303-350.
    4. Scott Fay & Erik Hurst & Michelle J. White, 2002. "The Household Bankruptcy Decision," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(3), pages 706-718, June.
    5. Franks, Julian & Sussman, Oren, 2005. "Financial innovations and corporate bankruptcy," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 283-317, July.
    6. Ronel Elul & Narayanan Subramanian, 2002. "Forum-Shopping and Personal Bankruptcy," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer;Western Finance Association, vol. 21(3), pages 233-255, June.
    7. Satyajit Chatterjee & Dean Corbae & Makoto Nakajima & José-Víctor Ríos-Rull, 2007. "A Quantitative Theory of Unsecured Consumer Credit with Risk of Default," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(6), pages 1525-1589, November.
    8. White, M.J., 1998. "Why Don't More Households File for Bankruptcy?," Papers 98-03, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
    9. Fan, Wei & White, Michelle J, 2003. "Personal Bankruptcy and the Level of Entrepreneurial Activity," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(2), pages 543-567, October.
    10. Ausubel, Lawrence M, 1991. "The Failure of Competition in the Credit Card Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 50-81, March.
    11. Li Gan & Tarun Sabarwal, 2005. "A Simple Test of Adverse Events and Strategic Timing Theories of Consumer Bankruptcy," NBER Working Papers 11763, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Lin, Emily Y. & White, Michelle J., 2001. "Bankruptcy and the Market for Mortgage and Home Improvement Loans," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 138-162, July.
    13. Ian Domowitz & Robert L. Sartain, 1999. "Determinants of the Consumer Bankruptcy Decision," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(1), pages 403-420, February.
    14. Townsend, Robert M., 1979. "Optimal contracts and competitive markets with costly state verification," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 265-293, October.
    15. White, Michelle J, 1998. "Why Don't More Households File for Bankruptcy?," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(2), pages 205-231, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Astrid A. Dick & Andreas Lehnert, 2010. "Personal Bankruptcy and Credit Market Competition," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 65(2), pages 655-686, April.
    2. Michelle J. White & Ning Zhu, 2010. "Saving Your Home in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 39(1), pages 33-61, January.
    3. Michelle J. White, 2007. "Bankruptcy Reform and Credit Cards," NBER Working Papers 13265, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Michelle J. White, 2008. "Bankruptcy: Past Puzzles, Recent Reforms, and the Mortgage Crisis," NBER Working Papers 14549, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item


    Bankruptcy ; Consumer credit;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:279. 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: (Amy Farber). General contact details of provider: .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.