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Unemployment risk and over-indebtedness : A micro-econometric perspective

Author

Listed:
  • Philip Du Caju

    (Research Department, NBB)

  • François Rycx

    (Université Libre de Bruxelles)

  • Ilan Tojerow

    (Université Libre de Bruxelles)

Abstract

We study how unemployment effects the over-indebtedness of households using the new European Household Finance and Consumption Survey (HFCS). First, we assess the role of different labor market statuses (i.e. employed, unemployed, disabled, retired, etc.) and other household characteristics (i.e. demographics, housing status, household wealth and income, etc.) to determine the likelihood of over-indebtedness. We explore these relationships both at the Euro area level and through country-specific regressions. This approach captures country-specific institutional effects concerning all the different factors which can explain household indebtedness in its most severe form. We also examine the role that each country’s legal and economic institutions play in explaining these differences. The results of the regressions across all countries show that the odds of being over-indebted are much higher in households where the reference person is unemployed. These odds ratios remain fairly stable across different over-indebtedness indicators and specifications. Interestingly, we find similar results for secured debt only. Turning to country specific results, the role of unemployment varies widely across countries. In Spain, France or Portugal, for example, the odds ratio for the unemployed group is just below 2, whereas in Austria, Belgium, or Italy the odds ratio is higher than 4. Secondly, we situate the analysis in a macro-micro frame to identify households and countries that are especially vulnerable to adverse macroeconomic shocks in the labor market. For the Euro area, we find that the percentage of households plagued by overindebtedness increased by more than 10%, suggesting that another unemployment shock could have a major impact on the financial solvency of Euro area households. Finally, the impact of this shock on single-headed households is much higher than on couple-headed ones.

Suggested Citation

  • Philip Du Caju & François Rycx & Ilan Tojerow, 2016. "Unemployment risk and over-indebtedness : A micro-econometric perspective," Working Paper Research 294, National Bank of Belgium.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbb:reswpp:201602-294
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    Cited by:

    1. Olympia Bover & Jose Maria Casado & Sonia Costa & Philip Du Caju & Yvonne McCarthy & Eva Sierminska & Panagiota Tzamourani & Ernesto Villanueva & Tibor Zavadil, 2016. "The Distribution of Debt across Euro-Area Countries: The Role of Individual Characteristics, Institutions, and Credit Conditions," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 12(2), pages 71-128, June.
    2. Philip Du Caju, 2017. "Pockets of risk in the Belgian mortgage market - Evidence from the Household Finance and Consumption survey," IFC Bulletins chapters, in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Data needs and Statistics compilation for macroprudential analysis, volume 46, Bank for International Settlements.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Household finance; Over-indebtedness; Financial Fragility; Unemployment; Labor market status; HFCS;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure

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