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Household Debt and Defaults from 2000 to 2010: Facts from Credit Bureau Data


  • Atif Mian
  • Amir Sufi


We use individual level credit bureau data to document which individuals saw the biggest rise in household debt from 2000 to 2007 and the biggest rise in defaults from 2007 to 2010. Growth in household debt from 2000 to 2007 was substantially larger for individuals with the lowest initial credit scores. However, initial debt levels were lower for individuals in the lowest 20% of the initial credit score distribution. As a result, the contribution to the total dollar rise in household debt was strongest among individuals in the 20th to 60th percentile of the initial credit score distribution. Consistent with the importance of home-equity based borrowing, the increase in debt is especially large among individuals in the lowest 60% of the credit score distribution living in high house price growth zip codes. In contrast, the borrowing of individuals in the top 20% of the credit score distribution is completely unresponsive to higher house price growth. In terms of defaults, the evidence is unambiguous: both default rates and the share of total delinquent debt is largest among individuals with low initial credit scores. The bottom 40% of the credit score distribution is responsible for 73% of the total amount of delinquent debt in 2007, and 68% of the total in 2008. Individuals in the top 40% of the initial credit score distribution never make up more than 15% of total delinquencies, even in 2009 at the height of the default crisis.

Suggested Citation

  • Atif Mian & Amir Sufi, 2015. "Household Debt and Defaults from 2000 to 2010: Facts from Credit Bureau Data," NBER Working Papers 21203, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21203
    Note: AP CF EFG ME

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Midrigan, Virgiliu & Philippon, Thomas, 2011. "Household Leverage and the Recession," CEPR Discussion Papers 8381, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Hurst, Erik & Stafford, Frank, 2004. "Home Is Where the Equity Is: Mortgage Refinancing and Household Consumption," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 36(6), pages 985-1014, December.
    3. Atif Mian & Amir Sufi, 2009. "The Consequences of Mortgage Credit Expansion: Evidence from the U.S. Mortgage Default Crisis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1449-1496.
    4. Atif Mian & Kamalesh Rao & Amir Sufi, 2013. "Household Balance Sheets, Consumption, and the Economic Slump," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(4), pages 1687-1726.
    5. Atif Mian & Amir Sufi, 2011. "House Prices, Home Equity-Based Borrowing, and the US Household Leverage Crisis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2132-2156, August.
    6. Alejandro Justiniano & Giorgio E. Primiceri & Andrea Tambalotti, 2019. "Credit Supply and the Housing Boom," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 127(3), pages 1317-1350.
    7. Callum Jones & Virgiliu Midrigan & Thomas Philippon, 2011. "Household Leverage and the Recession," NBER Working Papers 16965, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Atif Mian & Amir Sufi, 2014. "What Explains the 2007–2009 Drop in Employment?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82, pages 2197-2223, November.
    9. Manuel Adelino & Antoinette Schoar & Felipe Severino, 2015. "Loan Originations and Defaults in the Mortgage Crisis: The Role of the Middle Class," NBER Working Papers 20848, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jiseob Kim, 2016. "Why household debt held by Korean seniors is problematic: An international comparison," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 36(4), pages 2080-2093.
    2. repec:cpp:issued:v:44:y:2018:i:2:p:81-99 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Gregory Bauer & Gurnain Pasricha & Rodrigo Sekkel & Yaz Terajima, 2018. "The Global Financial Cycle, Monetary Policies, and Macroprudential Regulations in Small, Open Economies," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 44(2), pages 81-99, June.
    4. Nelson Lind, 2017. "Credit Regimes and the Seeds of Crisis," 2017 Meeting Papers 1474, Society for Economic Dynamics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E0 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General
    • R3 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location

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