Journal Article

Deleveraging in a Highly Indebted Property Market: Who does it and are there Implications for Household Consumption?

July 1, 2015

The Review of Income and Wealth

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A distinguishing feature of the period preceding the 2007/2008 financial crisis was the sizeable increase in private sector debt observed across many countries. A key component of household liabilities is mortgage debt and with many countries experiencing persistent increases in house prices from the mid-1990s, a marked increase in this aspect of household leverage was observed. While aggregate statistics across countries confirm reductions in personal debt levels in recent years, relatively few sources of micro data are available to examine the nature of the deleveraging process at the household level. In this paper, using a unique dataset, we examine deleveraging amongst a representative sample of mortgaged Irish households. We identify the characteristics of households engaged in deleveraging and find that it is those households who can afford to deleverage who do. Furthermore we find some tentative evidence to suggest that the decision to deleverage has negative implications for household consumption.