Informal Bankruptcy

38 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2002  

Amanda E. Dawsey

University of Montana - School of Business Administration - Department of Economics

Lawrence M. Ausubel

University of Maryland - Department of Economics

Date Written: February 2002

Abstract

In the economic literature on bankruptcy, the standard methodology is to model the individual's bankruptcy decision as a binary choice between "bankruptcy" and "no bankruptcy." We define an additional choice - non-repayment without seeking the formal protection of the bankruptcy - as informal bankruptcy. Using data from a large credit card issuer, we find evidence that while both lenient exemption laws and garnishment laws increase bankruptcies in the standard model, loose garnishment discourages default in our expanded model, while at the same time more pronouncedly shifting individuals from informal to formal bankruptcy. This result suggests that previous research may substantially understate the degree to which garnishment laws drive defaulting individuals to choose bankruptcy. Moreover, lenient exemption laws increase both formal and informal bankruptcy. We also find that borrowers living in majority black neighborhoods are more likely to choose informal bankruptcy, and less likely to choose formal bankruptcy, than other borrowers.

Suggested Citation

Dawsey, Amanda E. and Ausubel, Lawrence M., Informal Bankruptcy (February 2002). Twelfth Annual Utah Winter Finance Conference. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=332161 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.332161

Amanda E. Dawsey (Contact Author)

University of Montana - School of Business Administration - Department of Economics ( email )

Liberal Arts 407
Missoula, MT 59808
United States

Lawrence M. Ausubel

University of Maryland - Department of Economics ( email )

Tydings Hall
College Park, MD 20742
United States
301-405-3495 (Phone)
301-405-3542 (Fax)

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