Heterogeneity in Mortgage Refinancing

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2022-06-22

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Abstract

Many households who would benefit from and are eligible to refinance their mortgages fail to do so. A recent literature has demonstrated a significant degree of heterogeneity in the propensity to refinance across various dimensions, yet much heterogeneity is left unexplained. In this paper, I use a clustering regression to characterize heterogeneity in mortgage refinancing by estimating the distribution of propensities to refinance. A key novelty to my approach is that I do so without relying on borrower characteristics, allowing me to recover the full degree of heterogeneity, rather than simply the extent to which the propensity to refinance varies with a given observable. I then explore the role of both observed and unobserved heterogeneity in group placement by regressing group estimates on a set of demographic characteristics. As a complement to my analysis, I provide evidence from a novel dataset of detailed information on borrower perspectives on mortgage refinancing to paint a more nuanced picture of how household characteristics and behavioral mechanisms play into the decision to refinance. I find a significant degree of heterogeneity in both the average and marginal propensity to refinance across households. While observables such as education, race and income do significantly correlate with group heterogeneity, it is clear that much heterogeneity may still be attributed to the presence of unobservable characteristics.

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Wu, Julia (2022). Heterogeneity in Mortgage Refinancing. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/25414.


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