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Does Money Matter for Intergenerational Income Transmission? Evidence that Intergenerational Income Transmission is Largely Driven by Human Capital (with Frank McIntyre) 

Parental income can predict children’s income through human capital or monetary transfers. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), we decompose parental income into a component that is predictable based on a wide array of human capital measure and a “luck” component that by construction is uncorrelated with human capital. We find that the intergenerational income transmission occurs through both channels but at sizably different rates. While the predictable component has a transmission rate of at least 0.8, the “luck” component has a transmission rate of at most 0.2. Therefore, the “pure human capital” component, calculated as the difference between these two estimates, has a transmission rate of at least 0.6. Thus, the intergenerational income elasticity is largely recovering the transmission of human capital rather than the influence of money.

Who Files for Bankruptcy?  The Heterogeneous Impact of State Laws on a Household’s Bankruptcy Decision

This paper examines the heterogeneous impact of state exemption laws and state garnishment laws on bankruptcy.  Using a new household level dataset, the empirical specification simultaneously examines the impact these laws have on a household’s bankruptcy decision as well as the impact they have on a household’s assets and unsecured debts.  High exemption laws are found to have a positive impact on the probability of bankruptcy that is increasing in assets.  Furthermore, high garnishment rates are found to have a positive impact on bankruptcy that is decreasing in income.  I also show that high exemption laws and high garnishment rates increase a household’s assets but do not affect unsecured debts.  I examine the policy implications of standardizing exemption levels and garnishment rates.  Understanding the heterogeneous effects of state laws is crucial as they suggest that a household with a given set of financial characteristics will seek bankruptcy relief if it resides in one state but will have to use alternative consumption smoothing measures if it lives in a different state.

A New View of Women in Bankruptcy: Evidence from Maryland Since 1940 (with Mary Eschelbach Hansen) 
Hansen, Mary Eschelbach and Michelle M. Miller (November 2016) “A New View of Women in Bankruptcy: Evidence from Maryland Since 1940″ American Bankruptcy Institute Journal

Women filing for bankruptcy alone—that is, without a spouse identified as a co-debtor—increased from about 20 percent of all petitioners in 1980 to almost 40 percent in 2000. This article examines the historical origins of the increase. We collected data from cases filed in Maryland between 1940 and 2003 to construct the first consistent time series of women in bankruptcy. We find that the share of women in bankruptcy was volatile at midcentury, and its modern, steady increase dates to the 1960s. Our data shows that the rise is, to a large extent, associated with improvements in access to credit for women, which were accelerated by the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) of 1974.

Provider Payment Methods and Incentives (with Randall P. Ellis and Bruno Martins)
Ellis, Randall P., Bruno Martins, and Michelle M. Miller (2016) “Provider Payment Methods and Incentives” in H. Kris Heggenhougen and Stella Quah (eds.), International Encyclopedia of Public Health, Second edition.
Diverse provider payment systems create incentives that affect the quantity and quality of health care services provided. Payments can be based on provider characteristics, which tend to minimize incentives for quality and quantity. Or payments can be based on quantities of services provided and patient characteristics, which provide stronger incentives for quality and quantity. Payments methods using both broader bundles of services and larger numbers of payment categories are growing in prevalence.  The recent innovation of performance-based payment attempts to target payments on key patient attributes so as to improve incentives, better manage patients, and control costs.

Social Networks and Personal Bankruptcy
Miller, Michelle M. (2015) “Social Networks and Personal Bankruptcy” Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 12(2): 289-310.
This article examines the role of social networks in a household’s bankruptcy decision. Social networks may affect a household’s bankruptcy decision in many ways: they could provide information about the required paperwork, recommend an attorney, reduce the stigma associated with bankruptcy, or increase awareness of its benefits. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), I exploit county and racial variation to identify network effects. My empirical strategy asks whether being surrounded by others of the same race increases bankruptcy use more for those in racial groups with high filing rates. This methodology allows me to include both county-year and racial-group fixed effects in my regressions. The results strongly confirm the importance of networks in a household’s bankruptcy decision.

Chapter 7 or 13: Are Client or Lawyer Interests Paramount? (with Lars J. Lefgren and Frank McIntyre)
Lefgren, Lars J., Frank McIntyre, and Michelle M. Miller (2010) “Chapter 7 or 13: Are Client or Lawyer Interests Paramount?” The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy (Advances) 10(1): Article 82.
Households often rely on professionals with specialized knowledge to make important financial decisions. In many cases, the professional’s financial interests are at odds with those of the client. We explore this problem in the context of personal bankruptcy. Both OLS and IV estimates show that attorneys play a central role in determining whether households file under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 of the bankruptcy code. We present evidence suggesting that some attorneys maximize profits by steering households into Chapter 13 bankruptcy even when the households’ objective financial benefits are low and the probability of case dismissal is high. An attorney-induced Chapter 13 filing increases household legal fees and reduces the probability of long-term debt relief.

Repeat Filers under the BAPCPA: A Legal and Economic Analysis (with Lance Miller)
Miller, Lance E., and Michelle M. Miller (2008) “Repeat Filers under the BAPCPA: A Legal and Economic Analysis” Norton Annual Survey of Bankruptcy Law
On April 20, 2005, President Bush signed into law the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (the “BAPCPA”). In this paper we highlight the three provisions of the BAPCPA which targeted repeat filers. First, Section 362(c) was amended to limit the automatic stay for repeat cases filed within a year of earlier dismissed cases. In addition, the BAPCPA amended Section 707(a)(8) to increase the time debtors must wait in between discharges, and added Section 109(h) to require that all individual debtors must obtain credit counseling before filing for bankruptcy. We discuss these changes from a legal and historical perspective, and examine whether and how each change impacted repeat filings. We find that while the BAPCPA did increase the time between filings, it did not change the rate of repeat filings. Moreover, the financial description of repeat filers remained the same before and after the BAPCPA. The BAPCPA may have prolonged the inevitable, but it did not lower the rate of repeat filing or effect who repeatedly files for bankruptcy.

Provider Payment Methods and Incentives (with Randall P. Ellis)
Ellis, Randall P., and Michelle M. Miller (2008) “Provider Payment Methods and Incentives” in Heggenhougen, Kris (ed.) International Encyclopedia of Public Health

Reprinted in Ellis, Randall P., and Michelle M. Miller (2009) “Provider Payment Methods and Incentives” (2009) in Guy Carrin, Kent Buse, Harald Kristian Heggenhougen and Stella R. Quah (eds.) Health Systems Policy, Finance, and Organization
Diverse provider payment systems create incentives that affect the quantity and quality of health care services provided. Payments can be based on provider characteristics, which tend to minimize incentives for quality and quantity. Or payments can be based on quantities of services provided and patient characteristics, which provide stronger incentives for quality and quantity. Payments methods using both broader bundles of services and larger numbers of payment categories are growing in prevalence. The recent innovation of performance-based payment attempts to target payments on key patient attributes so as to improve incentives, better manage patients, and control costs.