Date of Award

12-1-2010

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Economics

First Advisor

Gilbert, Scott

Abstract

Studying household finance and behavior is important not only for understanding the micro level behavior, but also to have a better understanding of the whole economy. The study of household behavior become even more important after the 2007 housing crises, and the giant effect it had (and is still having) on Wall Street and the whole US and global economy. This dissertation is an attempt to understand some of the household behavior: how does the new internet era affect the demand for credit cards, which attitudes influence the household's decision to file bankruptcy, and whether expenditure habits encouraged overspending. The study will use the micro level data provides by Survey of Consumer Finance SCF2007. In the first chapter, the study focuses on the effect of having internet access on household demand for credit cards, controlling for standard price, income effects and other financial and demographic variables. The internet changed the way consumer shops, with more information about the product, the market and the price. E-Commerce retail sales grew on average of 22% a year over the past decade; in the second quarter of 2009 it reached $32.4 billion. The study found that households who have access to the internet, carry around $862 more on their credit card balance, in average, than households who have no access to the internet. The second chapter investigates the effects of borrowing and saving attitudes on household decision to file for personal bankruptcy. The total non-commercial bankruptcy filings increased from 560,682 cases in 2006 to 784,079 in 2007. This increase continued through 2008 and the first quarter of 2009, with 1,031,443 cases filed in 2008 and 304,228 in the first three months of 2009. The study results suggest that borrowing and saving attitudes have no effect of household decision to file for bankruptcy except for paying credit card balance in full every month. The third chapter studies the relationship between eating out "Food-Away-From-Home" and overspending. Since 19% of household in the US are spending more than their income. The average for the past nine years (2000-2008) was 1.6%. Compared to other industrialized countries, the US had one of the worst personal saving rates during the past twenty years . The study found that eating out does not encourage overspending. On the contrary, the higher the ratio of FAFH to total food expenditures the less likely household will overspend.

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