Moral Hazard versus Liquidity in Household Bankruptcy

77 Pages Posted: 24 May 2019 Last revised: 3 Nov 2020

Date Written: October 26, 2020


This paper studies the role of moral hazard and liquidity in driving household bankruptcy. First, I estimate that increases in potential debt forgiveness have a positive, but small, effect on filing using a regression kink design. Second, exploiting quasi-experimental variation in mortgage payment reductions, I estimate that filing is five times more responsive to cash-on-hand than relief generosity. Using a sufficient statistic, I show the estimates imply large consumption-smoothing benefits of bankruptcy for the marginal filer. Finally, I conclude 83% of the filing response to dischargeable debt comes from liquidity effects rather than a moral hazard response to financial incentives.

JEL Classification: G51,K35

Suggested Citation

Indarte, Sasha, Moral Hazard versus Liquidity in Household Bankruptcy (October 26, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Sasha Indarte (Contact Author)

Wharton ( email )

The Wharton School
3620 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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