Personal Bankruptcy Decisions Before and After Bankruptcy Reform
49 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2012 Last revised: 14 Feb 2019
Date Written: , 2012
We examine the personal bankruptcy decisions of lower-income homeowners before and after the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA). Econometric studies suggest that personal bankruptcy is explained by financial gain rather than adverse events, but data constraints have hindered tests of the adverse events hypothesis. Using household level panel data and controlling for the financial benefit of filing, we find that stressors related to cash flow, unexpected expenses, unemployment, health insurance coverage, medical bills, and mortgage delinquencies predict bankruptcy filings a year later. At the federal level, the 2005 Bankruptcy Reform explains a decrease in filings over time in counties that experienced lower filing rates.
Keywords: BAPCPA, bankruptcy reform, medical bankruptcy, medical bills, health insurance, mortgage delinquency
JEL Classification: I13, K35, Z18, J15, J64
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