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Columbia Law School

2010

Bankruptcy

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Saving Up For Bankruptcy, Ronald J. Mann, Katherine M. Porter Jan 2010

Saving Up For Bankruptcy, Ronald J. Mann, Katherine M. Porter

Faculty Scholarship

This paper probes the puzzle of why only a few of those for whom bankruptcy would be economically valuable ever choose to file. We use empirical evidence about the patterns of bankruptcy filings to understand what drives the point in time at which the filings occur, and to generate policy recommendations about how the bankruptcy and debt-collection system sorts those that need relief from those that do not.

The paper combines three kinds of data. First, quantitative data collected from judicial filing records that show the weekly, monthly, and annual patterns of bankruptcy filings. Second, 40 interviews with industry professionals ...


Saving Up For Bankruptcy, Ronald J. Mann, Katherine Porter Jan 2010

Saving Up For Bankruptcy, Ronald J. Mann, Katherine Porter

Faculty Scholarship

Bankruptcy is a numbers game. Policymaking, public perception, and the scholarly literature are captivated with the number of annual bankruptcy filings, which hit one million in 2008. The number of annual bankruptcy filings has become a barometer of economic health, reflecting an implicit assumption that bankruptcy is a useful proxy for financial distress.

But at the level of the individual family, the causative relation between financial distress and bankruptcy filings is unclear. On the one hand, only a fraction of those in serious financial distress will ever file for bankruptcy. For example, a study by Michelle White examined a group ...