Household debt and the dynamic effects of income tax changes

Working papers set out research in progress by our staff, with the aim of encouraging comments and debate.
Published on 28 March 2014

Working Paper No. 491
By James Cloyne and Paolo Surico

Using a long span of expenditure survey data and a new narrative measure of exogenous income tax changes for the United Kingdom, we show that households with mortgage debt exhibit large and persistent consumption responses to changes in their income. Homeowners without a mortgage, in contrast, do not appear to react, with responses not statistically different from zero at all horizons. Splitting the sample by age and education yields more limited evidence of heterogeneity as the distributions of these demographics tend to overlap across housing tenure groups. We interpret our findings through the lens of traditional and more recent theories of liquidity constraints, providing a novel interpretation for the aggregate effects of tax changes on the economy.

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