Panel Paper at the 37th Annual APPAM Fall Research Conference
Saturday, November 14, 2015: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Discussants: A. Rupa Datta, National Opinion Research Center
The magnitude and role of debt in American lives has varied substantially in the post-World War II period. These changes have motivated and reflected factors in the economy as a whole, as well as major policy initiatives in such diverse domains as housing, education, retirement savings, personal finance, and divorce law. The National Longitudinal Surveys (NLS) program of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, is a unique resource in understanding the relationship of assets and debts to many aspects of individuals’ behavior, including physical and mental health, family formation, college-going, home ownership and employment. This panel observes the 50th anniversary of the NLS program by convening a discussion of what the NLS program can tell us about the changing nature of American debt and its effect on our society. Through exploration of new analyses and previously published work, the panel presents specific findings on the determinants and consequences of household debt, then reflects on the extent to which targeted policy changes affecting indebtedness can affect individuals’ lives much more broadly than is often considered in policy discussions.