Working Paper Local Conditions and Debt in Collections
Breno Braga, Signe-Mary McKernan, Caroline Ratcliffe, Brett Theodos, John Chalekian, Christopher Trepel
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A revised version of this paper was published in The Journal of Consumer Affairs on September 6, 2019.


Using credit bureau records on seven million people in the United States, we demonstrate that debt in collections varies significantly across the country, with the South and West regions showing the highest share of people with debt in collections. Additionally, we identify local factors that are associated with debt in collections: (1) lower health insurance coverage, (2) lower home values, (3) a higher share of African Americans and Latinos, (4) a higher unemployment rate, and (5) lower educational attainment. These analyses provide a first glimpse into the relationship between local conditions and debt in collections.

Research Areas Wealth and financial well-being Neighborhoods, cities, and metros Families Race and equity
Tags Asset and debts Economic well-being Racial and ethnic disparities Financial products and services Family credit and debt
Policy Centers Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population