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Collateral Damage: The Impact of Mortgage Debt on U.S. Savings

Cengiz Tunc () and Abdullah Yavas ()

Housing Policy Debate, 2017, vol. 27, issue 5, 712-733

Abstract: This article contributes to the literature on saving by empirically investigating the determinants of the saving rate in the United States, with a special focus on the role of mortgage debt. Using data from 1987 to 2013, we find that mortgage payments have a substantial negative impact on both personal and private saving rates in the United States. An increase of 10 percentage points in mortgage payments leads to a 9.1-percentage-point drop in the personal saving rate and a 12.4-percentage-point drop in the private saving rate. In addition, including mortgage debt as an explanatory variable leads to significant changes in the impact of other variables, which further reinforces our claim that mortgage debt is important for the analysis of the saving rate. Comparing mortgage payments with nonmortgage consumer debt payments, we find that mortgage payments have a larger impact on the private saving rate whereas nonmortgage consumer debt payments have a larger impact on the personal saving rate. We also find a partial but robust crowding-out effect of public saving rate on the two saving rates. Our results have implications for monetary policy and government policies that encourage mortgage borrowing.

Date: 2017
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