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Attitudes Toward Debt and Debt Behavior


  • Johan Almenberg
  • Annamaria Lusardi
  • Jenny Säve-Söderbergh
  • Roine Vestman


We introduce a novel survey measure of attitude toward debt. Matching our survey results with panel data on Swedish household balance sheets from registry data, we show that our debt attitude measure helps explain individual variation in indebtedness as well as debt build-up and consumption behavior in the period 2004–2007. As an explanatory variable, debt attitude compares well to a number of other determinants of debt, including education, risk-taking, and financial literacy. We also provide evidence that debt attitude is passed down along family lines and has a cultural element.

Suggested Citation

  • Johan Almenberg & Annamaria Lusardi & Jenny Säve-Söderbergh & Roine Vestman, 2018. "Attitudes Toward Debt and Debt Behavior," NBER Working Papers 24935, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24935
    Note: AG

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    Cited by:

    1. Andrzej Cwynar & Wiktor Cwynar & Monika Baryła-Matejczuk & Moises Betancort, 2019. "Sustainable Debt Behaviour and Well-Being of Young Adults: The Role of Parental Financial Socialisation Process," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(24), pages 1-26, December.
    2. Jean-Charles Bricongne & Leonor Coutinho & Alessandro Turrini & Stefan Zeugner, 2020. "Is Private Debt Excessive?," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 31(2), pages 471-512, April.
    3. Butrica, Barbara A. & Karamcheva, Nadia S, 2020. "Is Rising Household Debt Affecting Retirement Decisions?," IZA Discussion Papers 13182, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Rendall, Stella & Brooks, Chris & Hillenbrand, Carola, 2021. "The impacts of emotions and personality on borrowers’ abilities to manage their debts," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 74(C).
    5. Lusardi, Annamaria & Mitchell, Olivia S. & Oggero, Noemi, 2019. "Debt close to retirement and its implications for retirement well-being," CFS Working Paper Series 631, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
    6. Achou, Bertrand, 2021. "Housing liquidity and long-term care insurance demand: A quantitative evaluation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 194(C).
    7. Meyll, Tobias & Pauls, Thomas, 2019. "The gender gap in over-indebtedness," Finance Research Letters, Elsevier, vol. 31(C).
    8. Cwynar Andrzej, 2020. "Financial Literacy, Behaviour and Well-Being of Millennials in Poland Compared to Previous Generations: The Insights from Three Large-Scale Surveys," Review of Economic Perspectives, Sciendo, vol. 20(3), pages 289-335, September.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D15 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Intertemporal Household Choice; Life Cycle Models and Saving
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making


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