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Title: Determinants of household borrowing in the United States and a panel of OECD countries prior to the financial crisis of 2007/2008
Author: Wildauer, Rafael
ISNI:       0000 0004 6498 335X
Awarding Body: Kingston University
Current Institution: Kingston University
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis investigates which factors drove the spectacular accumulation of household liabilities prior to the financial crisis of 2007/2008 in the United States and 12 other OECD countries. Two mechanisms are of particular interest. The first is the polarization in the distribution of income which can be observed since the 1980s in the United States and European OECD countries (Atkinson et al. 2011). The second mechanism is the increase in asset prices and in particular residential real estate prices, which is considered by some authors as a major explanation of household debt accumulation (Mian & Sufi 2011). Based on two different data sources, the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) and a macro panel of 13 OECD countries, an extremely robust result emerges: The residential housing market is the key driver of household debt accumulation. This finding strongly supports an asset-focused view of household sector debt and discourages explanations which rely on a direct link from the distribution of income to household indebtedness. There is some evidence that the income polarization contributed to higher debt-levels in the US but this positive relationship is conditional on homeownership. The interpretation of these findings is that real estate purchases represent the single most important reason for households to take on debt and even if households take on debt for other reasons, real estate collateral is often a binding requirement to be granted a loan. The thesis contributes to the existing literature in three ways. First, it is the first attempt to investigate the inequality as well as the asset mechanism in a unified framework whereas previous studies analysed them in isolation. Second, by constructing a borrowing measure from SCF data the unmatched coverage of the top tail of the wealth distribution of this dataset can be exploited. Third, the thesis provides some methodological insights when using survey data to analyse household borrowing behaviour: increased model fit by the separation of borrowing and non-borrowing households; necessity to separately control for asset purchases; disadvantages of growth rates and logarithmic differences.
Supervisor: Stockhammer, Engelbert ; Stewart, Chris Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Economics and econometrics