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On Regional Borrowing, Default, and Migration

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Abstract

Migration plays a key role in city finances with every new entrant reducing debt per person and every exit increasing it. We study the interactions between regional borrowing, migration, and default from empirical, theoretical, and quantitative perspectives. Empirically, we document that in-migration rates are positively correlated with deficits, that many cities appear to be at or near state-imposed borrowing limits, and that defaults can occur after booms or busts in productivity and population. Theoretically, we show that migration creates an externality that results in over-borrowing, and our quantitative model is able to rationalize many features of the data because of it. Counterfactuals reveal (1) Detroit should have deleveraged in the financial crisis to avoid default; (2) a return to the high-interest rate environment prevailing in the 1990s has only small long-run effects on city finances; and (3) anticipated bailouts double default rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Grey Gordon & Pablo Guerrón-Quintana, 2019. "On Regional Borrowing, Default, and Migration," Working Paper 19-4, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedrwp:19-04
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Davis, Morris A. & Fisher, Jonas D.M. & Veracierto, Marcelo, 2021. "Migration and urban economic dynamics," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 133(C).
    2. George Alessandria & Minjie Deng & Yan Bai, 2019. "Sovereign Default Risk and Migration," 2019 Meeting Papers 1085, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Alessandria, George & Bai, Yan & Deng, Minjie, 2020. "Migration and sovereign default risk," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 1-22.
    4. Prein, Timm, 2019. "Persistent Unemployment, Sovereign Debt Crises, and the Impact of Haircuts," VfS Annual Conference 2019 (Leipzig): 30 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall - Democracy and Market Economy 203654, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    5. Si Guo & Yun Pei & Zoe Xie, 2018. "Decentralization and Overborrowing in a Fiscal Federation," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2018-9, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    6. Guerron-Quintana, Pablo A., 2020. "“Migration and sovereign default risk” a comment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 23-27.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    migration; cities;

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population
    • R51 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Finance in Urban and Rural Economies

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