作者：吴卫星 吴锟 王琎
关键词：家庭负债 金融素养 过度负债
Financial Literacy and Household Debt：Empirical Studies Using Chinese Household Survey Data
WU Weixing,WU Kun,and WANG Jin
Summary:Given the rapid development of the financial market and the change in attitude toward consumption, the debt level of Chinese households has increased sharply. As of October 2017,the balance of household loans was approximately 39.56 trillion yuan, of which consumer loans reached approximately 30.67 trillion yuan. Against the current background of the “deleveraging” policy in China, such a large balance of household debts should be considered more seriously. The effect of the household debt decision is a double edged sword for the economy and society. Moderate debt can not only smoothen consumption in different periods and improve the intertemporal utility for the household, but also accelerate the growth of household wealth (Wu et al., 2016). However, over indebtedness may increase the pressure on household repayments, damaging the health of residents (Clayton et al.,2015), and even trigger a financial crisis (Gerardi et al.,2010). Therefore,it is important to analyze the factors that influence the debt decision of Chinese households from a micro perspective.
Among the factors that influence the household debt decision, the role of financial literacy cannot be ignored. Moore (2003) finds that households with a lower level of financial literacy are more likely to hold mortgages that are more costly. Klapper et al. (2013) reported that households with higher financial literacy were more inclined to borrow from banks and other formal financial institutions. Meanwhile, Lusardi & Tufano (2015) stated that individuals with a lower level of financial literacy tended to hold excessive debt loads. In this study, we first used data from the “China Consumer Finance Status and Investor Education Survey” conducted by China Financial Research Center of Tsinghua University in 2010 and 2011 to construct a financial literacy index by conducting factor analysis and examining the group differences in financial literacy among households in China. We then empirically tested the effects of financial literacy on Chinese household debt, over indebtedness, and liability channels using models such as the probit model. Moreover, taking the possible issues of endogeneity into account, we conducted two stage estimations. Finally, other measures of financial literacy or over indebtedness, different subsamples, and the Heckman two stage method were used to verify the robustness of our empirical results.
We found that Chinese household financial literacy was positively related to the education level, while the financial literacy of women was significantly lower than that of men. More importantly, financial literacy had a significant effect on the debt decision. With the improvement in the financial literacy, households intended to hold debts and preferred to borrow from banks and other formal financial institutions while restraining the degree of over indebtedness at the same time. These findings suggest that financial literacy can assist households in making better and more suitable debt decisions. Furthermore, a more scientific and reasonable credit behavior of households contributes to the healthy and stable development of the credit and financial markets.
This study contributes to the current literature in two ways. First, using the micro survey data of Chinese households, we construct an index of financial literacy and investigate the group differences in financial literacy across households in China. Second, we systematically examine the effect of financial literacy on the household debt decision in China.
The findings reported in this paper have significant policy implications. First, we should recognize that the level of financial literacy of most Chinese households is relatively low and that the level of financial literacy has a negative effect on over indebtedness at the micro level. Second, financial education should vary from person to person because there exists a distinct heterogeneity of financial literacy among people of different ages, genders, and educational degrees. Third, any financial policies (such as the reform of pension insurance and the promotion of inclusive finance) that involve households should consider household financial literacy.
Keywords：Household Debt; Financial Literacy; Over indebtedness
JEL Classification： D12, D14, G11
姓名：吴卫星 吴锟 王琎 工作单位：