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Debt as a source of financial stress in Australian households

Author

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  • Andrew C. Worthington

Abstract

This paper examines the role of demographic, socioeconomic and debt portfolio characteristics as contributors to financial stress in Australian households. The data is drawn from the most-recent Household Expenditure Survey Confidentialised Unit Record Files (CURF) and relate to 3,268 probability-weighted households. Financial stress is defined, amongst other things, in terms of financial reasons for being unable to have a holiday, have meals with family and friends, and engage in hobbies and other leisure activities and overall financial management. Characteristics examined included family structure and composition, source and level of household income, age, sex and marital status, ethic background, housing value, debt repayments and credit card usage. Binary logit models are used to identify the source and magnitude of factors associated with financial stress. The evidence provided suggests that financial stress is higher in families with more children or other dependents and from ethnic minorities, especially those more reliant on government pensions and benefits, and negatively related to disposable income and housing value. There is little evidence to suggest that Australia’s historically high levels of household debt are currently the cause of significant amounts of financial stress in these households.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew C. Worthington, 2003. "Debt as a source of financial stress in Australian households," School of Economics and Finance Discussion Papers and Working Papers Series 164, School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology.
  • Handle: RePEc:qut:dpaper:164
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    File URL: http://external-apps.qut.edu.au/business/documents/discussionPapers/2003/DP%20164%20Worthington.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Leece, David, 2000. " Household Choice of Fixed versus Floating Rate Debt: A Binomial Probit Model with Correction for Classification Error," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 62(1), pages 61-82, February.
    2. Brueckner, Jan K, 1997. "Consumption and Investment Motives and the Portfolio Choices of Homeowners," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 159-180, October.
    3. Gunnarsson, Jonas & Wahlund, Richard, 1997. "Household financial strategies in Sweden: An exploratory study," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 18(2-3), pages 201-233, April.
    4. Dean M. Maki, 2000. "The growth of consumer credit and the household debt service burden," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-12, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    5. DeVaney, Sharon A. & Lytton, Ruth H., 1995. "Household insolvency: A review of household debt repayment, delinquency, and bankruptcy," Financial Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 137-156.
    6. Ian Domowitz & Robert L. Sartain, 1999. "Determinants of the Consumer Bankruptcy Decision," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(1), pages 403-420, February.
    7. Brueckner, Jan K., 1994. "The Demand for Mortgage Debt: Some Basic Results," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 251-262, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Andrew C. Worthington, 2004. "The Distribution of Financial Literacy in Australia," School of Economics and Finance Discussion Papers and Working Papers Series 185, School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Household and consumer debt; owner-occupied and investor housing; financial stress.;

    JEL classification:

    • C25 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions; Probabilities
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • G18 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • R20 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - General

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