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Where is the missing credit card debt? Clues and implications

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  • Jonathan Zinman

Abstract

Jonathan Zinman, an assistant professor of economics at Dartmouth College and a visiting scholar with the Payment Cards Center, makes a casual comparison of industry and household data sets which suggests that households underreport credit card borrowing by a factor of three. This paper offers some reassurance and several new stylized facts. Accounting for differences in definitions between household and industry measures reduces debt underreporting to a factor of two. Underreporting is less severe for general-purpose than for other cards. The true underreporting factor has remained stable over the past 15 years, even as 26 million households entered the market. Households report charges and account holding relatively accurately.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan Zinman, 2007. "Where is the missing credit card debt? Clues and implications," Consumer Finance Institute discussion papers 07-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpdp:07-11
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. 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.
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    Keywords

    Credit cards; Debt;

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