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How Federally Insured Reverse Mortgages Affect the Credit Outcomes of Older Adults

Published Date September 22, 2020
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Abstract

This study examines how the extraction of home equity through the federally insured Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) affects the credit outcomes of older adults. We use data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York/Equifax Consumer Credit Panel, supplemented with a unique credit panel data set of reverse mortgage borrowers. Using matched sample difference-in-differences with individual fixed effects, we estimate credit outcomes for older adults who borrowed through a HECM between 2008 and 2011, relative to older homeowners not borrowing from home equity. Our results indicate that the HECM is associated with a short-term reduction in revolving credit card debt, as well as a reduction in the probability of bankruptcy. We find some evidence of heterogeneous treatment effects, where older adults with higher levels of consumer debt prior to originating a HECM experience larger subsequent declines in debt, increases in credit score, and steeper reductions in bankruptcy rates.