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Does Greater Inequality Lead to More Household Borrowing? New Evidence from Household Data

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  • Olivier Coibion
  • Yuriy Gorodnichenko
  • Marianna Kudlyak
  • John Mondragon

Abstract

One suggested hypothesis for the dramatic rise in household borrowing that preceded the financial crisis is that low-income households increased their demand for credit to finance higher consumption expenditures in order to "keep up" with higher-income households. Using household level data on debt accumulation during 2001-2012, we show that low-income households in high-inequality regions accumulated less debt relative to income than their counterparts in lower-inequality regions, which negates the hypothesis. We argue instead that these patterns are consistent with supply-side interpretations of debt accumulation patterns during the 2000s. We present a model in which banks use applicants' incomes, combined with local income inequality, to infer the underlying type of the applicant, so that banks ultimately channel more credit toward lower-income applicants in low-inequality regions than high-inequality regions. We confirm the predictions of the model using data on individual mortgage applications in high- and low-inequality regions over this time period.

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  • Olivier Coibion & Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Marianna Kudlyak & John Mondragon, 2014. "Does Greater Inequality Lead to More Household Borrowing? New Evidence from Household Data," NBER Working Papers 19850, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19850
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    Cited by:

    1. Elisa Palagi & Mauro Napoletano & Andrea Roventini & Jean-Luc Gaffard, 2017. "Inequality, Redistributive Policies and Multiplier Dynamics in an Agent-based Model with Credit Rationing," Italian Economic Journal: A Continuation of Rivista Italiana degli Economisti and Giornale degli Economisti, Springer;Società Italiana degli Economisti (Italian Economic Association), vol. 3(3), pages 367-387, November.
    2. Michael Kumhof & Romain Rancière & Pablo Winant, 2015. "Inequality, Leverage, and Crises," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(3), pages 1217-1245, March.
    3. Oliver Denk & Boris Cournède, 2015. "Finance and income inequality in OECD countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1224, OECD Publishing.
    4. Rémi Bazillier & Jérôme Hericourt, 2017. "The Circular Relationship Between Inequality, Leverage, And Financial Crises," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(2), pages 463-496, April.
    5. Clément Bellet, 2017. "Essays on Inequality, Social Preferences and Consumer Behavior," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/vbu6kd1s68o, Sciences Po.
    6. Barrot, Jean-Noël & Loualiche, Erik & Plosser, Matthew & Sauvagnat, Julien, 2017. "Import competition and household debt," Staff Reports 821, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    7. repec:zbw:rwirep:0509 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Rémi Bazillier & Jérôme Héricourt, 2014. "The Circular Relationship between Inequality, Leverage, and Financial Crises: Intertwined Mechanisms and Competing Evidence," Working Papers 2014-22, CEPII research center.
    9. Clement Bellet, 2017. "The Paradox of the Joneses: Superstar Houses and Mortgage Frenzy in Suburban America," CEP Discussion Papers dp1462, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    10. Mathias Klein & Christopher Krause, 2014. "Income Redistribution, Consumer Credit,and Keeping up with the Riches," Ruhr Economic Papers 0509, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    11. Boris Cournède & Oliver Denk & Peter Hoeller, 2015. "Finance and Inclusive Growth," OECD Economic Policy Papers 14, OECD Publishing.
    12. Athiphat Muthitacharoen & Krislert Samphantharak & Sommarat Chantarat, 2017. "Fiscal Stimulus and Household Debt: Evidence from Thailand's First-Car Buyer Tax Rebate," PIER Discussion Papers 60, Puey Ungphakorn Institute for Economic Research, revised Jun 2017.
    13. Alvarez-Cuadrado, Francisco & Japaridze, Irakli, 2017. "Trickle-down consumption, financial deregulation, inequality, and indebtedness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 1-26.
    14. Bezemer, Dirk & Samarina, Anna, 2016. "Debt Shift, Financial Development and Income Inequality in Europe," Research Report 16020-GEM, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
    15. Alberto Russo & Luca Riccetti & Mauro Gallegati, 2016. "Increasing inequality, consumer credit and financial fragility in an agent based macroeconomic model," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 26(1), pages 25-47, March.
    16. Klein, Mathias & Krause, Christopher, 2014. "Income Redistribution, Consumer Credit,and Keeping up with the Riches," Ruhr Economic Papers 509, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    17. Brocas, Isabelle & Carrillo, Juan D & Giga, Aleksandar & Zapatero, Fernando, 2016. "Skewness Seeking in a Dynamic Portfolio Choice Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 11056, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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    19. Valentina Dimitrova-Grajzl & Peter Grajzl & A. Joseph Guse & Richard M. Todd & Michael Williams, 2015. "Neighborhood Racial Characteristics, Credit History, and Bankcard Credit in Indian Country," CESifo Working Paper Series 5594, CESifo Group Munich.
    20. Rémi Bazillier & Jérôme Héricourt & Samuel Ligonnière, 2017. "Structure of Income Inequality and Household Leverage: Theory and Cross-Country Evidence," Working Papers 2017-01, CEPII research center.
    21. Bellet, Clement, 2017. "The paradox of the Joneses: superstar houses andmortgage frenzy in suburban America," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 69044, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E51 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Money Supply; Credit; Money Multipliers
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages

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