No. 1095 - Household debt and income inequality: evidence from Italian survey data

Vai alla versione italiana Site Search

by David LoschiavoDecember 2016

Does regional income inequality affect a household's likelihood of being indebted? This question is addressed by using survey data on Italian households.

The analysis shows that inequality in the regional income distribution has a negative effect on the probability of being indebted. In addition, richer households living in regions with greater income inequality have a greater likelihood of being indebted than similarly rich households residing in regions with low income inequality (and vice versa for poorer households).

The study suggests that supply factors are more important than demand factors in explaining this result. These findings are consistent with the latest survey-based evidence drawn from US data which suggests that banks may use local income inequality and a household's position in the income distribution to make inferences about an applicant's underlying default risk. These results hold after controlling for socio-demographic differences, different types of debt, unobserved household heterogeneity using panel data and a number of robustness checks.

Published in 2021 in: Review of Income and Wealth, vol. 67, 1, pp. 61-103.

Full text