Household Debt: Facts, Puzzles, Theories, and Policies

37 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2014

See all articles by Jonathan Zinman

Jonathan Zinman

Dartmouth College; Innovations for Poverty Action; Jameel Poverty Action Lab; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Date Written: September 2014

Abstract

Borrowing decisions affect most households, with large stakes and implications for subfields as varied as macroeconomics and industrial organization. I review theoretical and empirical work on household debt: its prevalence, level, growth, and composition, as well as various measures of consumer choice and market (in)efficiency, elasticities, and prices, including new evidence on how borrowing heterogeneity affects the distribution of the opportunity cost of consumption. I also discuss opportunities and challenges in policy evaluation. A key takeaway is that puzzles outstrip stylized facts, and I highlight numerous avenues for further research.

Keywords: consumer credit, consumer debt, household liabilities, household balance sheet, household finance, consumer finance

JEL Classification: D03, D14, D18, D82, D83, D91, E21, E32, G01, G02, G11, G21, G23, G28, R31

Suggested Citation

Zinman, Jonathan, Household Debt: Facts, Puzzles, Theories, and Policies (September 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2493776 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2493776

Jonathan Zinman (Contact Author)

Dartmouth College ( email )

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603-646-0075 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.dartmouth.edu/jzinman/

Innovations for Poverty Action

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Jameel Poverty Action Lab

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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