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Insolvency After the 2005 Bankruptcy Reform

Author

Listed:
  • Albanesi, Stefania

    (FRBNY and CEPR)

  • Nosal, Jaromir

    (Columbia University)

Abstract

Using a comprehensive panel data set 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, due 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

  • Albanesi, Stefania & Nosal, Jaromir, 2015. "Insolvency After the 2005 Bankruptcy Reform," Economics Series 312, Institute for Advanced Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:ihs:ihsesp:312
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    File URL: http://www.ihs.ac.at/publications/eco/es-312.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jagtiani, Julapa & Li, Wenli, 2014. "Credit access after consumer bankruptcy filing: new evidence," Working Papers 14-25, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    2. 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.
    3. repec:tpr:restat:v:99:y:2017:i:5:p:853-869 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. Donghoon Lee & Wilbert Van der Klaauw, 2010. "An introduction to the FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel," Staff Reports 479, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Jason Allen & Kiana Basiri, 2016. "The Impact of Bankruptcy Reform on Insolvency Choice and Consumer Credit," Staff Working Papers 16-26, Bank of Canada.
    3. Kyle Herkenhoff & Gordon Phillips & Ethan Cohen-Cole, 2016. "The Impact of Consumer Credit Access on Employment, Earnings and Entrepreneurship," NBER Working Papers 22846, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

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

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