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Measuring aversion to debt: an experiment among student loan candidates

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  • Caetano, Gregorio
  • Patrinos, Harry A.
  • Palacios, Miguel

Abstract

This paper reports the results of an experiment designed to test for the presence of debt aversion. The population who participated in the experiment were recent financial aid candidates and the experiment focused on student loans. The goal is to shed new light on different aspects of the perceptions with respect to debt. These perceptions can prevent agents from choosing an optimal portfolio or from undertaking attractive investment opportunities, such as in education. The study design disentangles two types of debt aversion: one that is studied in the previous literature, which encompasses both framing and labeling effects, and another that controls for framing effects and identifies only what we denote labeling debt aversion. The results suggest that participants in the experiment exhibit debt aversion, and most of the debt aversion is due to labeling effects. Labeling a contract as a"loan"'decreases its probability of being chosen over a financially equivalent contract by more than 8 percent. The analysis also provides evidence that students are willing to pay a premium of about 4 percent of the financed value to avoid a contract labeled as debt.

Suggested Citation

  • Caetano, Gregorio & Patrinos, Harry A. & Palacios, Miguel, 2011. "Measuring aversion to debt: an experiment among student loan candidates," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5737, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5737
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Guiso, Luigi & Jappelli, Tullio & Terlizzese, Daniele, 1996. "Income Risk, Borrowing Constraints, and Portfolio Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 158-172, March.
    2. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Introduction to "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings"," NBER Chapters,in: Schooling, Experience, and Earnings, pages 1-4 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Pedro Carneiro & James J. Heckman, 2002. "The Evidence on Credit Constraints in Post--secondary Schooling," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(482), pages 705-734, October.
    4. George Psacharopoulos & Harry Anthony Patrinos, 2004. "Returns to investment in education: a further update," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(2), pages 111-134.
    5. Zhang, Harold H, 1997. " Endogenous Borrowing Constraints with Incomplete Markets," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(5), pages 2187-2209, December.
    6. Erica Field, 2009. "Educational Debt Burden and Career Choice: Evidence from a Financial Aid Experiment at NYU Law School," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 1-21, January.
    7. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, 2003. "An Empirical Analysis of the Risk Properties of Human Capital Returns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 948-964, June.
    8. Ashenfelter, Orley & Krueger, Alan B, 1994. "Estimates of the Economic Returns to Schooling from a New Sample of Twins," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1157-1173, December.
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    10. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Keueger, 1991. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 979-1014.
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    Cited by:

    1. Katharine G. Abraham & Emel Filiz-Ozbay & Erkut Y. Ozbay & Lesley J. Turner, 2018. "Framing Effects, Earnings Expectations, and the Design of Student Loan Repayment Schemes," NBER Working Papers 24484, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Paolo Sodini & Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh & Roine Vestman & Ulf von Lilienfeld-Toal, 2016. "Identifying the Benefits from Home Ownership: A Swedish Experiment," NBER Working Papers 22882, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Access to Finance; Debt Markets; Bankruptcy and Resolution ofFinancial Distress; Economic Theory&Research; Tertiary Education;

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