Consumer Debt Stress, Changes in Household Debt, and the Great Recession

35 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2013 Last revised: 18 Mar 2014

See all articles by Lucia F. Dunn

Lucia F. Dunn

Ohio State University

Ida A. Mirzaie

Ohio State University; Economic Research Forum (ERF)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 2014


This research examines psychological debt stress and changes in household debt holdings for consumers during the Great Recession using data from a monthly national U.S. household survey covering the period 2006 through 2012. Debt stress in the population rose by over 50 percent at the bottom of the recession. Determining relative stress for eight different types of household debt, we find that non-collateralized debts are more stressful than collateralized debt and that during the recession the composition of debt shifted away from collateralized debt and toward non-collateralized. Our empirical results show that women and Hispanics experienced higher levels of stress.

Keywords: Consumer Debt Stress, Great Recession, Collateralized Debt, Non-collateralized Debt, Collections

JEL Classification: D12, D18

Suggested Citation

Dunn, Lucia F. and Mirzaie, Ida A., Consumer Debt Stress, Changes in Household Debt, and the Great Recession (March 2014). Available at SSRN: or

Lucia F. Dunn (Contact Author)

Ohio State University ( email )

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Ida A. Mirzaie

Ohio State University ( email )

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United States
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Economic Research Forum (ERF) ( email )

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