Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers,
Copenhagen Business School, Department of Finance

No 2007-1: Distributions of owner-occupiers' housing wealth, debt and interest expenditureratios as financial soundness indicators

Jens Lunde
Additional contact information
Jens Lunde: Department of Finance, Copenhagen Business School, Postal: Department of Finance, Copenhagen Business School, Solbjerg Plads 3, A5, DK-2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark

Abstract: The Danish housing market boomed from 1993 to the end of 2006. The house price increases from 2003 to 2006 were especially dramatic and cannot be explained satisfactorily by "fundamentals”. Moreover, the owner-occupiers are highly indebted; Denmark is the nation with the highest household debt/GDP, highest total liabilities/net wealth and highest mortgage debt/net non-financial wealth ratios among 15 OECD countries. Obviously, an analysis of the financial soundness of owner-occupiers is topical in order to analyse financial stability in society. The financial soundness of Danish owner-occupier families is analysed using relevant financial indicators for the owner-occupiers’ capital structure and interest payments. Tax statistics for the owner-occupier families are used here. In a financial soundness perspective macro data are of limited importance as they express total and average changes. Distributional data at the micro level, formed at the family (household) level, are important for recognizing changes in the financial soundness of the nation. The data are used to estimate important financial indicators as debt/income, housing wealth/income, debt/housing wealth and net interest expenditure/income ratios for the families’ total financial situation and capital structure. The result is that the financial soundness of Danish owner-occupiers, measured as net liability housing wealth ratios, has not improved since the owner-occupation crisis in the years 1987-1993. Furthermore, their housing wealth/income and net liability/income ratios have increased since 1993 to "all-time high” levels, just as in the other OECD countries; net interest expenditure/income ratios have been reduced in a before-tax perspective, but not much in an after-tax perspective. The substantial heterogeneity of the families is considerably reduced by adjusting for age as a proxy for the life cycle. Moreover, the income variation is also reduced considerably within each age group.

Keywords: na

JEL-codes: D14; D31; R31

32 pages, January 1, 2007

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