NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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The Economic Consequences of Bankruptcy Reform

Tal Gross, Raymond Kluender, Feng Liu, Matthew J. Notowidigdo, Jialan Wang

NBER Working Paper No. 26254
Issued in September 2019
NBER Program(s):The Corporate Finance Program, The Law and Economics Program

A more generous consumer bankruptcy system provides greater insurance against financial risks, but it may also raise the cost of credit to consumers. We study this trade-off using the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA), which raised the costs of filing for bankruptcy. We identify the effects of BAPCPA on borrowing costs by exploiting variation in the effects of the reform on bankruptcy risk across credit-score segments. Using a combination of administrative records, credit reports, and proprietary market-research data, we find that the reform reduced bankruptcy filings, and reduced the likelihood that an uninsured hospitalization received bankruptcy relief by 70 percent. BAPCPA led to a decrease in credit card interest rates, with an implied pass-through rate of 60–75 percent. Overall, BAPCPA decreased the gap in offered interest rates between prime and subprime consumers by roughly 10 percent.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w26254

 
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