Debt and household finance: Evidence from the Financial Diaries

Type Journal Article - Development Southern Africa
Title Debt and household finance: Evidence from the Financial Diaries
Volume 25
Issue 4
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2008
Page numbers 469-479
The Financial Diaries data-set is a unique, new set of year-long daily income, expense and financial transactions for households from three different areas of South Africa. These data show that over-indebted households (those that spend 20 per cent or more of their gross monthly income on debt) do not fit one homogeneous profile. Formal debt tends to be responsible for over-indebtedness in the urban areas, while in the rural areas the cause tends to be informal debt. In the urban areas high indebtedness is more prevalent among medium-income and high-income households, whereas in the rural areas it occurs at all income levels. High indebtedness in grant-dependent rural households tends to be persistent, whereas in wage-dependent urban households it is often short-lived. These findings present a new financial picture of poor rural populations that is unlikely to be touched by recent policy measures to address over-indebtedness.

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