Unemloyment and Unobserved Credit Risk in the FHA Single Family Mortgage Insurance Fund
Empirical models of mortgage default typically find that the influence of unemployment is negligible compared to other well known risk factors such as high borrower leverage or low borrower FICO scores. This is at odds with theory, which assigns a critical role to unemployment status in the decision to stop payment on a mortgage. We help reconcile this divergence by employing a novel empirical strategy involving simulated unemployment histories to measure the severity of attenuation bias in loan-level estimations of default risk due to a borrower becoming unemployed. Attenuation bias results because individual data on unemployment status is unobserved, requiring that a market-wide unemployment rate be used as a proxy. Attenuation is extreme, with our results suggesting that the use of an aggregate unemployment rate in lieu of actual borrower unemployment status results in default risk from a borrower becoming unemployed being underestimated by a factor of 100 or more. Correcting for this indicates unemployment is more powerful than other well-known factors such as extremely high leverage or extremely low FICO scores in predicting individual borrower default. Our simulated data indicate that adding the unemployment rate as a proxy for the missing borrower-specific unemployment indicator does not improve the accuracy of the estimated model over the specification without the proxy variable included.
|Date of creation:||Mar 2013|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Fernando Ferreira & Joseph Gyourko & Joseph Tracy, 2011.
"Housing Busts and Household Mobility: An Update,"
NBER Working Papers
17405, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Yongheng Deng & John M. Quigley & Robert Van Order, .
"Mortgage Terminations, Heterogeneity and the Exercise of Mortgage Options,"
Zell/Lurie Center Working Papers
322, Wharton School Samuel Zell and Robert Lurie Real Estate Center, University of Pennsylvania.
- Yongheng Deng & John M. Quigley & Robert Van Order, 2000. "Mortgage Terminations, Heterogeneity and the Exercise of Mortgage Options," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(2), pages 275-308, March.
- Deng, Yongheng & Quigley, John M. & Van Order, Robert, 1999. "Mortgage Terminations, Heterogeneity, and the Exercise of Mortgage Options," Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy, Working Paper Series qt96r560pg, Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy.
- Diego Aragon & Andrew Caplin & Sumit Chopra & John V. Leahy & Yann LeCun & Marco Scoffier & Joseph Tracy, 2010. "Reassessing FHA Risk," NBER Working Papers 15802, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Caplin, Andrew & Freeman, Charles & Tracy, Joseph, 1997. "Collateral Damage: Refinancing Constraints and Regional Recessions," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 29(4), pages 496-516, November.
- Moulton, Brent R, 1990. "An Illustration of a Pitfall in Estimating the Effects of Aggregate Variables on Micro Unit," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(2), pages 334-38, May.
- Andra C. Ghent & Marianna Kudlyak, 2010. "Recourse and residential mortgage default: theory and evidence from U.S. states," Working Paper 09-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
- Andrew Caplin & Anna Cororaton & Joseph Tracy, 2012. "Is the FHA Creating Sustainable Homeownership?," NBER Working Papers 18190, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Fernando Ferreira & Joseph Gyourko & Joseph Tracy, 2008.
"Housing busts and household mobility,"
350, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
- Foote, Christopher L. & Gerardi, Kristopher & Willen, Paul S., 2008.
"Negative equity and foreclosure: Theory and evidence,"
Journal of Urban Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 234-245, September.
- Christopher L. Foote & Kristopher Gerardi & Paul S. Willen, 2008. "Negative equity and foreclosure: theory and evidence," Public Policy Discussion Paper 08-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
- Kau James B. & Keenan Donald C. & Kim Taewon, 1994. "Default Probabilities for Mortgages," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 278-296, May.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18880. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.