Theses Doctoral

Does information form(at) matter? Consumer response to mortgage disclosures

Phan, Minh Q.

On October 3rd, 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau changed the presentation of information within mortgage disclosures such that monthly payments and upfront costs are more salient. Using proprietary bank account data, I document that after closing on the mortgage, treated consumers receiving the re-designed disclosures log in more into their liquid checking accounts, spend less on debit cards and cash, but spend more on credit cards. I argue that the more salient disclosures caused consumers to prioritize having funds to make monthly obligations. Accordingly, I find that liquidity constrained consumers reallocate more of their debit card and cash spending to credit card spending. Other channels related to underestimation of mortgage costs, financial advice, and regulatory enforcement cannot fully explain the results. The reform benefits consumers as they do not accumulate credit card charges despite making more timely mortgage payments. The results collectively demonstrate that modifying information presentation is a low-cost way to change consumers’ behaviors.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Rajgopal, Shivaram
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 3, 2021