This paper questions several long-standing descriptions of consumer bankruptcy in the United States. We focus on Chapter 13, which discharges debts after consumers pay disposable income to creditors for up to five years. Many studies document pathologies, including high failure rates, racial disparities, low creditor recoveries, and attorney biases. We observe the same patterns in new data drawn from Cook County, Illinois, but show that these pathologies are central tendencies that ignore substantial heterogeneity across consumers. Several pathologies are driven by subsets of consumers; some disappear once we take account of consumer heterogeneity. We present new evidence that some pathologies reflect biases in nonbankruptcy law, not in the bankruptcy process itself.
Bankruptcy Law | Law | Law and Economics
Edward R. Morrison & Antoine Uettwiller,
Consumer Bankruptcy Pathologies,
Available at: https://scholarship.law.columbia.edu/faculty_scholarship/2410