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Bankruptcy and Delinquency in a Model of Unsecured Debt

At an aggregate level, formal default via bankruptcy and informal default via delinquency are both quantitatively important in consumer credit markets. In this paper, we use a variety of microeconomic data sources to construct a salient set of facts on the use of unsecured debt and both formal and informal default. We then show that these facts, which describe both the cross-sectional and dynamic behavior of borrowing and default, can be well understood through a quantitative model of consumer credit with empirically plausible representations of labor market risks, social safety nets, and debt-default options.

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