Working Paper Number


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Working Paper 125


From the late 1990s through 2005, the U.S. experienced an unprecedented housing boom, which boosted the asset values of many families. This meant, on the one hand, that families with homes had more collateral to borrow against, but it also meant that new home buyers needed to take out larger mortgages to afford a home. After 2001, the U.S. saw a sharp acceleration in the growth rate of household debt. Using data from the Survey of Consumer Finances conducted by the Federal Reserve, which we supplement with data from the Flow of Funds Accounts generated by the Federal Reserve, we consider the effect of the housing and mortgage boom on the financial security of homeowners. The data indicate that all measures of vulnerability are increasing and suggest declining financial security for homeowners after 2000. The increases in financial vulnerability were especially pronounced for minorities, younger families, and lower income families.


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