Discussion Paper

Charging into Adulthood: Credit Cards and Young Consumers


Abstract: The New York Fed’s Center for Microeconomic Data today released the Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit for the fourth quarter of 2019. Total household debt balances grew by $193 billion in the fourth quarter, marking a $601 billion increase in household debt balances in 2019, the largest annual gain since 2007. The main driver was a $433 billion annual upswing in mortgage balances, also the largest since 2007. Auto loan and credit card balances both increased by a brisk $57 billion last year, while student loan balances climbed by a more muted $51 billion, well below the $114 billion increase recorded in 2013—the fastest pace of growth for the series. The source for the Quarterly Report is the New York Fed’s Consumer Credit Panel—a panel data set that now spans twenty-one years, 1999-2019. The unique panel design allows us to identify new entrants to the credit market: as young people age into having credit reports and using credit products, they are “born” into the panel, enabling us to observe the credit behavior of young borrowers.

Keywords: consumer credit panel; household finance; CCP;

JEL Classification: D14;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Part of Series: Liberty Street Economics

Publication Date: 2020-02-11

Number: 20200211