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Non-Cognitive Abilities and Financial Delinquency: The Role of Self-Efficacy in Avoiding Financial Distress

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  • Camelia M. Kuhnen
  • Brian T. Melzer

Abstract

We investigate a novel determinant of household financial delinquency, namely, people’s subjective expectations regarding the cost-benefit trade-off in default decisions. These expectations are determined by individuals’ self-efficacy, which is a non-cognitive ability that measures how strongly people believe that their effort will influence future outcomes. Using longitudinal household survey data, we show that people with higher self-efficacy, measured earlier in life, are less likely to be financially delinquent later on and to face consequences such as losing assets or access to traditional credit markets, are more likely to prepare for dealing with potential adverse shocks such as a job loss or a health event, and when faced with such shocks, are less likely to become financially delinquent. Complementing prior findings regarding the effects of cognitive abilities, financial literacy and education on economic behavior, our evidence suggests that non-cognitive abilities have an important role in household financial decision making.

Suggested Citation

  • Camelia M. Kuhnen & Brian T. Melzer, 2017. "Non-Cognitive Abilities and Financial Delinquency: The Role of Self-Efficacy in Avoiding Financial Distress," NBER Working Papers 23028, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23028
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Claus Thustrup Kreiner & Søren Leth-Petersen & Louise Charlotte Willerslev-Olsen, 2020. "Financial Trouble Across Generations: Evidence from the Universe of Personal Loans in Denmark," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 130(625), pages 233-262.
    2. Victor Stango & Jonathan Zinman, 2019. "We are all Behavioral, More or Less: Measuring and Using Consumer-level Behavioral Sufficient Statistics," NBER Working Papers 25540, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Driouchi, Tarik & So, Raymond H.Y. & Trigeorgis, Lenos, 2020. "Investor ambiguity, systemic banking risk and economic activity: The case of too-big-to-fail," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 62(C).
    4. Roy, Sanchari & Morton, Matthew & Bhattacharya, Shrayana, 2018. "Hidden human capital: Self-efficacy, aspirations and achievements of adolescent and young women in India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 161-180.
    5. Ye, Zihan & Post, Thomas, 2020. "What age do you feel? – Subjective age identity and economic behaviors," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 173(C), pages 322-341.
    6. Gianpaolo Parise & Kim Peijnenburg, 2017. "Understanding the determinants of financial outcomes and choices: the role of noncognitive abilities," BIS Working Papers 640, Bank for International Settlements.
    7. J. Cloutier & A. Roy, 2020. "Consumer Credit Use of Undergraduate, Graduate and Postgraduate Students: An Application of the Theory of Planned Behaviour," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 43(3), pages 565-592, September.
    8. Victor Stango & Jonathan Zinman, 2019. "We are all Behavioral, More or Less: Measuring and Using Consumer-level Behavioral Sufficient Statistics," NBER Working Papers 25540, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Bu, Di & Hanspal, Tobin & Liao, Yin & Liu, Yong, 2020. "Financial literacy and self-control in FinTech: Evidence from a field experiment on online consumer borrowing," SAFE Working Paper Series 273, Leibniz Institute for Financial Research SAFE.
    10. Driouchi, Tarik & Trigeorgis, Lenos & So, Raymond H.Y., 2020. "Individual antecedents of real options appraisal: The role of national culture and ambiguity," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 286(3), pages 1018-1032.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations
    • G02 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Behavioral Finance: Underlying Principles

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