Supersedes Working Paper 18-16 - Does the Relative Income of Peers Cause Financial Distress? Evidence from Lottery Winners and Neighboring Bankruptcies

Using lottery winnings as plausibly exogenous variations in the relative income of peers, we find that the dollar magnitude of a lottery win of one neighbor increases subsequent borrowing and bankruptcies among other neighbors. We also examine which factors may mitigate lenders’ bankruptcy risk in these neighborhoods. We show that bankruptcy filers obtain more secured but not unsecured debt, and lenders provide additional credit to low-risk but not high-risk debtors. In addition, we find evidence consistent with local lenders taking advantage of soft information to mitigate credit risk.