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Insolvency after the 2005 bankruptcy reform

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  • Stefania Albanesi
  • Jaromir B. Nosal

Abstract

Using a comprehensive panel dataset on U.S. households, we study the effects of the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA), the most substantive reform of personal bankruptcy in the United States since the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978. The 2005 legislation introduced a means test based on income to establish eligibility for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and increased the administrative requirements to file, leading to a rise in the opportunity cost and, especially, the financial cost of filing for bankruptcy. We study the effects of the reform on bankruptcy, insolvency, and foreclosure. We find that the reform caused a permanent drop in the Chapter 7 bankruptcy rate relative to pre-reform levels, owing to the rise in filing costs associated with the reform, which can be interpreted as resulting from liquidity constraints. We find that the decline in bankruptcy filings resulted in a rise in the rate and persistence of insolvency as well as an increase in the rate of foreclosure. We find no evidence of a link between the decline in bankruptcy and a rise in the number of individuals who are current on their debt. We document that these effects are concentrated at the bottom of the income distribution, suggesting that the income means tests introduced by BAPCPA did not serve as an effective screening device. We show that insolvency is associated with worse financial outcomes than bankruptcy, as insolvent individuals have less access to new lines of credit and display lower credit scores than individuals who file for bankruptcy. Since bankruptcy filings declined much more for low-income individuals, our findings suggest that, for this group, BAPCPA may have removed an important form of relief from financial distress.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefania Albanesi & Jaromir B. Nosal, 2015. "Insolvency after the 2005 bankruptcy reform," Staff Reports 725, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:725
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hülya Eraslan & Gizem Koşar & Wenli Li & Pierre‐Daniel Sarte, 2017. "An Anatomy Of U.S. Personal Bankruptcy Under Chapter 13," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 58, pages 671-702, August.
    2. Tal Gross & Matthew J. Notowidigdo & Jialan Wang, 2014. "Liquidity Constraints and Consumer Bankruptcy: Evidence from Tax Rebates," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(3), pages 431-443, July.
    3. Julapa Jagtiani & Wenli Li, 2014. "Credit access after consumer bankruptcy filing: new evidence," Working Papers 14-25, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    4. Borys Grochulski, 2010. "Optimal Personal Bankruptcy Design under Moral Hazard," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 13(2), pages 350-378, April.
    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. Will Dobbie & Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham & Crystal S. Yang, 2017. "Consumer Bankruptcy and Financial Health," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 99(5), pages 853-869, December.
    7. Donghoon Lee & Wilbert Van der Klaauw, 2010. "An introduction to the FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel," Staff Reports 479, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    8. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kyle Herkenhoff, 2016. "The Impact of Consumer Credit Access on Employment, Earnings and Entrepreneurship," 2016 Meeting Papers 781, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Exler, Florian & Tertilt, Michèle, 2020. "Consumer Debt and Default: A Macro Perspective," IZA Discussion Papers 12966, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Gordon Phillips & Kyle Herkenhoff, 2015. "The Impact of Consumer Credit Constraints on Earnings, Sorting, and Job Finding Rates of Displaced Workers," 2015 Meeting Papers 375, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. Jason Allen & Kiana Basiri, 2016. "The Impact of Bankruptcy Reform on Insolvency Choice and Consumer Credit," Staff Working Papers 16-26, Bank of Canada.
    5. António R. Antunes & Tiago Cavalcanti & Caterina Mendicino & Marcel Peruffo & Anne Villamil, 2019. "Tighter Credit and Consumer Bankruptcy Insurance," Working Papers w201921, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
    6. Bleemer, Zachary & van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2019. "Long-run net distributionary effects of federal disaster insurance: The case of Hurricane Katrina," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 70-88.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    personal bankruptcy; insolvency; foreclosure;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • K35 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Personal Bankruptcy Law
    • E65 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Studies of Particular Policy Episodes
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance

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