Where is the Missing Credit Card Debt? Clues and Implications
26 Pages Posted: 28 Nov 2007
Date Written: September 2007
In this Discussion Paper, Jonathan Zinman, an assistant professor of economics at Dartmouth College and a visiting scholar with the Payment Cards Center, makes a casual comparison of industry and household data sets which suggests that households underreport credit card borrowing by a factor of three. This paper offers some reassurance and several new stylized facts. Accounting for differences in definitions between household and industry measures reduces debt underreporting to a factor of two. Underreporting is less severe for general-purpose than for other cards. The true underreporting factor has remained stable over the past 15 years, even as 26 million households entered the market. Households report charges and account holding relatively accurately.
Keywords: Credit card, Revolving debt, Survey of Consumer Finances, G.19, Data quality
JEL Classification: C81, D1, D91
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation