EconPapers    
Economics at your fingertips  
 

Bankruptcy and Investment: Evidence from Changes in Marital Property Laws in the U.S. South, 1840-1850

Peter Koudijs and Laura Salisbury ()

No 21952, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: We study the impact of the introduction of a form of bankruptcy protection on household investment in the U.S. South in the 1840s, which predated modern bankruptcy laws. During this period, certain southern states passed laws that protected married women's property from seizure in the case of insolvency, amending the common law default which vested a wife's property in her husband and thus allowed it to be seized for the repayment of his debts. Importantly, these laws only applied to newlyweds. We compare couples married after the passage of a law with couples from the same state who married before the passage of a law. Since states passed laws at different points in time, we can exploit variation in protection conditional on state and year of marriage. We find that the effect on household investment was heterogeneous: if most household wealth came from the husband (wife), the law led to an increase (decrease) in investment. This is consistent with a simple model where downside protection leads to both an increase in the demand for credit and a reduction in supply. Demand effects will only dominate if a modest fraction of total wealth is protected.

JEL-codes: G33 K11 K35 N21 N31 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016-02
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-his
Note: CF DAE LE
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (2) Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link)
http://www.nber.org/papers/w21952.pdf (application/pdf)

Related works:
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21952

Ordering information: This working paper can be ordered from
http://www.nber.org/papers/w21952

Access Statistics for this paper

More papers in NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.. Contact information at EDIRC.
Bibliographic data for series maintained by ().

 
Page updated 2020-11-05
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21952