Working Papers

2016-31 | December 2016


Intergenerational Linkages in Household Credit


We document novel, economically important correlations between children’s future credit risk scores, default, and homeownership status and their parents’ credit characteristics measured when the children are in their late teens. A one standard deviation higher parental credit risk score when the child is 19 is associated with a 24 percent reduction in the likelihood that the child goes bankrupt by age 29, a 36 percent lower likelihood of other serious default, a 35 point higher child credit score, and a 23 percent higher chance of the child becoming a homeowner. The linkages persist after controlling for parental income. The linkages are stronger in cities with lower intergenerational income mobility, implying that common factors might drive both. Existing measures of state-level educational policy have limited effects on the strength of the linkages. Evidence from a sample of siblings suggests that the linkages might be largely due to family fixed effects.

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