ESRI Working Paper

Household savings constraints, uncertainty and macroprudential policy

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March 6, 2019
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Despite the increasingly wide-spread nature of macroprudential regulations, relatively few studies have assessed the implications of such policies on key household finance decisions. In this paper, we investigate the impact on Irish household perceived savings constraints of macroprudential policy measures introduced by the Central Bank of Ireland in early 2015. These measures, which require larger downpayments than previously was the case, constitute a significant new source of uncertainty for those seeking to engage in homeownership. Using a unique, nationally representative survey of households' savings decisions we find that the measures have had a significant impact on the degree to which Irish households feel constrained in their savings decisions. Credit constraints and consumer inattention are proposed as explanatory channels for this development. Heterogeneous effects across households indicate younger, private renting households, and those with relatively uncertain cash flows show the largest increase in perceived constraints following the introduction of the policy.