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Jel Classification:D10 

Newsletter
Financial life after the death of a spouse

The death of a spouse results in a considerable decline in average income for the surviving spouse. The Social Security survivors benefits program compensates the surviving spouse, most often a woman, for almost all of the lost income, allowing them to work less, but many widows who are not yet eligible for the program struggle to meet their financial needs.
Chicago Fed Letter , Issue 438 , Pages 5

Working Paper
Student Loans, Access to Credit and Consumer Financial Behavior

This paper provides novel evidence that increased student loan debts, caused by rising tuitions, increase borrowers’ demand for additional consumer debt, while simultaneously restricting their ability to access it. The net effect of student loan debt on consumer borrowing varies by market, depending on whether the supply or demand channel dominates. In loosely underwritten credit markets, increased student loan debt causes borrowing to increase, while in tightly underwritten markets, increased student loan debt reduces the use of credit. These findings match predictions of a standard ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2021-050

Discussion Paper
Climate Change and Consumer Finance: A Very Brief Literature Review

Extant research shows that climate change can impose significant costs on consumers’ wealth and finances. Both sea-level rise and flooding from hurricane events led to high price declines and thus wealth loss for homes in coastal areas or in disaster-struck areas, with effects lingering for a number of years in some cases. In terms of consumer finance, while the average consumer is not always significantly negatively affected by a disaster, the vulnerable groups (those with low credit scores and who are low income) can be severely affected, experiencing higher rates of delinquencies and ...
Consumer Finance Institute discussion papers , Paper 21-04

Report
How do people pay rent?

Using data from the 2014 Boston Fed Bill Payment Experiment and the 2014 Survey of Consumer Payment Choice (SCPC), we investigate how households pay their rent. We find that the dominant methods for paying rent are cash (22 percent), check (42 percent), and money order (16 percent). Electronic methods are still rarely used, at 8 percent for bank account number payment and 7 percent for online banking bill payment, and less than 2 percent for debit and credit cards. Compared with other large bill payments of more than $200, rental payments are much more likely to be made with paper-based ...
Research Data Report , Paper 16-2

Working Paper
Manning Up and Womaning Down: How Husbands and Wives Report Earnings When She Earns More

To infer social preferences regarding the relative earnings of spouses, we use measurement error in the earnings reported for married couples in the Current Population Survey. We compare the earnings reported for husbands and wives in the survey with their “true” earnings as reported by their employers to tax authorities. Compared with couples where the wife earns just less than the husband, those where she earns just more are 15.9 percentage points more likely to under-report her relative earnings. This pattern reflects the reporting behavior of both husbands and wives and is consistent ...
Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute Working Papers , Paper 28

Working Paper
Whose Child Is This? Shifting of Dependents Among EITC Claimants Within the Same Household

Using a panel of household level tax data, we estimate the degree to which dependents are "reassigned" between tax units within households, and how these reassignments affect combined tax liabilities. Reassigning dependents reduces combined tax liabilities on average, suggesting some household level coordination. Additionally, when EITC benefits expanded in 2009, reassignments increasingly involved adding a third child to tax returns to claim these new benefits. However, the subgroup reassigning towards three child tax units actually increased total household tax liabilities, suggesting ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2017-089

Working Paper
“Sort Selling”: Political Polarization and Residential Choice

Partisanship and political polarization are salient features of today’s society. We merge deeds records with voter rolls and show that political polarization is more than just “political cheerleading.” Descriptively, homeowners are more likely to sell their homes and move when their next-door neighbors are affiliated with the opposite political party. We use a novel, new-next door neighbor identification strategy along with rich demographic control variables and time by-geography fixed effects to confirm causality. Consistent with a partisanship mechanism, our results are strongest when ...
Working Papers , Paper 21-14

Working Paper
Why Does Consumption Fluctuate in Old Age and How Should the Government Insure it?

In old age, consumption can fluctuate because of shocks to available resources and because health shocks affect utility from consumption. We find that even temporary drops in income and health are associated with drops in consumption and most of the effect of temporary drops in health on consumption stems from the reduction in the marginal utility from consumption that they generate. More precisely, after a health shock, richer households adjust their consumption of luxury goods because their utility of consuming them changes. Poorer households, instead, adjust both their necessary and luxury ...
Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute Working Papers , Paper 40

Working Paper
Heterogeneity in Economic Shocks and Household Spending

Large swings in aggregate household-sector spending, especially for big ticket items such as cars and housing, have been a dominant feature of the macroeconomic landscape in the past two decades. Income and wealth inequality increased over the same period, leading some to suggest the two phenomena are interconnected. Indeed, there is supporting evidence for the idea that heterogeneity in economic shocks and spending are connected, most notably in studies using local-area geography as the unit of analysis. The Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) provides a household-level perspective on changes ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2015-49

Working Paper
Inferring Inequality with Home Production

We revisit the causes, welfare consequences, and policy implications of the dispersion in households' labor market outcomes using a model with uninsurable risk, incomplete asset markets, and a home production technology. Accounting for home production amplifies welfare-based differences across households meaning that inequality is larger than we thought. Using the optimality condition that households allocate more consumption to their more productive sector, we infer that the dispersion in home productivity across households is roughly three times as large as the dispersion in their wages. ...
Working Papers , Paper 746

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