Household Debt and the Effects of Fiscal Policy

Crawford School of Public Policy | Tax and Transfer Policy Institute
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Event details


Date & time

Friday 20 October 2023


Molonglo Theatre , Level 2, JG Crawford Building 132, Lennox Crossing, ANU


Dr Melissa (Hyunji) Song, The University of Sydney


Diane Paul
02 61259318

This paper examines how the effects of government spending shocks depend on the balance-sheet position of households. Employing U.S. household survey data, we find that in response to a positive government spending shock, households with mortgage debt have a large, positive consumption response, while renters have a smaller rise in consumption. Homeowners without mortgage debt, in contrast, have an insignificant expenditure response. We consider a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model with three types of households: savers who own their housing, borrowers with mortgage debt, and rule-of-thumb consumers who rent housing and show that it can successfully account for these findings. The model suggests that liquidity constraints and wealth effects, tied to the persistence of public spending, play a crucial role in the propagation of government spending shocks. Our findings provide both empirical and theoretical support for the notion that household mortgage debt position plays an important role in the transmission mechanism of fiscal policy.

Dr Melissa Hyunji Song is a lecturer in the school of Economics at the University of Sydney. She earned her Ph.D. in Economics from Texas A&M University in 2022. Her primary research interests lie in the fields of macroeconomics, with a recent focus on the effects of monetary and fiscal policy, as well as household finance using micro-level data.

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