Does the Relative Income of Peers Cause Financial Distress? Evidence from Lottery Winners and Neighboring Bankruptcies
83 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2018 Last revised: 22 Dec 2018
Date Written: 2018-05-24
SUPERSEDED BY WP 18-22 We examine whether relative income differences among peers can generate financial distress. Using lottery winnings as plausibly exogenous variations in the relative income of peers, we find that the dollar magnitude of a lottery win of one neighbor increases subsequent borrowing and bankruptcies among other neighbors. We also examine which factors may mitigate lenders’ bankruptcy risk in these neighborhoods. We show that bankruptcy filers can obtain secured but not unsecured debt, and lenders provide secured credit to low-risk but not high-risk debtors. In addition, we find evidence consistent with local lenders reducing bankruptcy risk using soft information.
Keywords: financial distress, social comparisons among peers
JEL Classification: D14, D31, G02, K35
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation