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Author:Armona, Luis 

Discussion Paper
Which Households Have Negative Wealth?
At some point in its life a household?s total debt may exceed its total assets, in which case it has ?negative wealth.? Even if this status is temporary, it may affect the household?s ability to save for durable goods, restrict access to further credit, and may require living in a state of limited consumption. Detailed analysis of the holdings of negative-wealth households, however, is a topic that has received little attention. In particular, relatively little is known about the characteristics of such households or about what drives negative wealth. A better understanding of these factors could also prove valuable in explaining and forecasting the persistence of wealth inequality. In this post, we take advantage of a special module of the Survey of Consumer Expectations to shed light on this issue.
AUTHORS: De Giorgi, Giacomo; Van der Klaauw, Wilbert; Armantier, Olivier; Armona, Luis
DATE: 2016-08-01

Discussion Paper
Searching for Higher Wages
Since the peak of the recession, the unemployment rate has fallen by almost 5 percentage points, and observers continue to focus on whether and when this decline will lead to robust wage growth. Typically, in the wake of such a decline, real wages grow since there is more competition for workers among potential employers. While this relationship has historically been quite informative, real wage growth more recently has not been commensurate with observed declines in the unemployment rate.
AUTHORS: Pilossoph, Laura; Samuel Kapon; Topa, Giorgio; Armona, Luis; Sahin, Aysegul
DATE: 2015-09-02

Report
How does for-profit college attendance affect student loans, defaults, and labor market outcomes?
For-profit providers are becoming an increasingly important fixture of U.S. higher education markets. Students who attend for-profit institutions take on more educational debt, have worse labor market outcomes, and are more likely to default than students attending similarly selective public schools. Because for-profits tend to serve students from more disadvantaged backgrounds, it is important to isolate the causal effect of for-profit enrollment on educational and labor market outcomes. We approach this problem using a novel instrument combined with a more comprehensive data set on student outcomes than has been employed in prior research. Our instrument leverages the interaction between changes in the demand for college owing to labor demand shocks and the local supply of for-profit schools. We compare enrollment and postsecondary outcome changes across areas that experience similar labor demand shocks but that have different latent supply of for-profit institutions. The first-stage estimates show that students are much more likely to enroll in a for-profit institution for a given labor demand change when there is a higher supply of such schools in the base period. Among four-year students, for-profit enrollment leads to more loans, higher loan amounts, an increased likelihood of borrowing, an increased risk of default, and worse labor market outcomes. Two-year for-profit students also take out more loans and have higher default rates and lower earnings. But they are more likely to graduate and to earn over $25,000 per year (the median earnings of high school graduates). Finally, we show that for-profit entry and exit decisions are at most weakly responsive to labor demand shocks. Our results point to low returns to for-profit enrollment that have important implications for public investments in higher education as well as for how students make postsecondary choices.
AUTHORS: Armona, Luis; Chakrabarti, Rajashri; Lovenheim, Michael
DATE: 2017-04-01

Report
Home price expectations and behavior: evidence from a randomized information experiment
Home price expectations are believed to play an important role in housing dynamics, yet we have limited understanding of how they are formed and how they affect behavior. Using a unique ?information experiment? embedded in an online survey, this paper investigates how consumers? home price expectations respond to past home price growth and how they impact investment decisions. After eliciting respondents? initial beliefs about past and future local home price changes, we present a random subset of the respondents with factual information about past (one- or five-year) changes and then re-elicit expectations. This unique ?panel? data allows us to identify causal effects of the information and provides insights on the expectation formation process. We find that, on average, year-ahead home price expectations are revised in a way consistent with short-term momentum in home price growth, though respondents tend to underpredict the strength of momentum. Revisions of longer-term expectations show that respondents do not expect the empirically occurring mean reversion in home price growth. These results are consistent with recent behavioral models of housing cycles. Finally, we present robust evidence of home price expectations impacting (actual and intended) housing-related behaviors, both in the cross section and within-individual.
AUTHORS: Armona, Luis; Fuster, Andreas; Zafar, Basit
DATE: 2016-10-19

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