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Who Invests in Home Equity to Exempt Wealth from Bankruptcy?

Homestead exemptions to personal bankruptcy allow households to retain their home equity up to a limit determined at the state level. Households that may experience bankruptcy thus have an incentive to bias their portfolios towards home equity. Using US household data for the period 1996 to 2006, we find that household demand for real estate is relatively high if the marginal investment in home equity is covered by the exemption. The home equity bias is more pronounced for younger households that face more financial uncertainty and therefore have a higher ex ante probability of bankruptcy.

01. Mai 2013

Autoren S. Corradin Reint E. Gropp H. Huizinga Luc Laeven

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The Effect of Personal Bankruptcy Exemptions on Investment in Home Equity

S. Corradin Reint E. Gropp H. Huizinga Luc Laeven

in: Journal of Financial Intermediation, January 2016

Abstract

Homestead exemptions to personal bankruptcy allow households to retain their home equity up to a limit determined at the state level. Households that may experience bankruptcy thus have an incentive to bias their portfolios towards home equity. Using US household data for the period 1996 to 2006, we find that household demand for real estate is relatively high if the marginal investment in home equity is covered by the exemption. The home equity bias is more pronounced for younger and less healthy households that face more financial uncertainty and therefore have a higher ex ante probability of bankruptcy. These results suggest that homestead exemptions have an important bearing on the portfolio allocation of US households and the extent to which they insure against bad shocks.

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