Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1434660
 
 

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Moral and Social Constraints to Strategic Default on Mortgages


Luigi Guiso


Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF)

Paola Sapienza


Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management - Department of Finance; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Luigi Zingales


University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); University of Chicago - Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

July 2009

NBER Working Paper No. w15145

Abstract:     
We use survey data to study American households' propensity to default when the value of their mortgage exceeds the value of their house even if they can afford to pay their mortgage (strategic default). We find that 26% of the existing defaults are strategic. We also find that no household would default if the equity shortfall is less than 10% of the value of the house. Yet, 17% of households would default, even if they can afford to pay their mortgage, when the equity shortfall reaches 50% of the value of their house. Besides relocation costs, the most important variables in predicting strategic default are moral and social considerations. Ceteris paribus, people who consider it immoral to default are 77% less likely to declare their intention to do so, while people who know someone who defaulted are 82% more likely to declare their intention to do so. The willingness to default increases nonlinearly with the proportion of foreclosures in the same ZIP code. That moral attitudes toward default do not change with the percentage of foreclosures in the area suggests that the correlation between willingness to default and percentage of foreclosures is likely to derive from a contagion effect that reduces the social stigma associated with default as defaults become more common.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 34

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Date posted: July 21, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Guiso, Luigi and Sapienza, Paola and Zingales, Luigi, Moral and Social Constraints to Strategic Default on Mortgages (July 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w15145. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1434660

Contact Information

Luigi Guiso
Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF) ( email )
Via Sallustiana 62
Rome, 00187
Italy
+39 06 4792 4858 (Phone)
+39 06 4792 4872 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.eief.it/faculty-visitors/faculty-a-z/luigi-guiso/
Paola Sapienza (Contact Author)
Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management - Department of Finance ( email )
Evanston, IL 60208
United States
847-491-7436 (Phone)
847-491-5719 (Fax)
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom
Luigi Zingales
University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )
5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-3196 (Phone)
773-834-2081 (Fax)

Chicago Booth School of Business Logo

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom
University of Chicago - Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)
c/o ECARES ULB CP 114
B-1050 Brussels
Belgium
HOME PAGE: http://www.ecgi.org
Feedback to SSRN


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References:  9
Citations:  27

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