Research Funding from JCHS
 
This summer I am lucky to be receiving research funding from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard. This funding will allow me to continue the ethnographic research I have been conducting on Americans going through Chapter 13 bankruptcy (which, in Massachusetts, is most commonly used to prevent home foreclosures).
 
Home mortgage debt makes up the bulk of household debt in America. As America continues to recover from the subprime mortgage bubble of 2007/2008, now is an excellent time to consider the effects of the government policies that turned a blind eye when subprime mortgages and predatory loans were made, and in the aftermath of the Great Recession, enacted policies to help keep struggling homeowners in their homes—encouraging banks to make loan modifications and hold off on foreclosures. While the goal of keeping Americans housed is laudable, many of these homeowners are still struggling economically. Negative equity in the US housing market has dropped from a high of 31.4% in 2012 to 10.5% 2016, but this means there are still millions of Americans “living underwater.”
 
The political effects of negative equity and over-indebtedness receive little attention in political science despite being one of the most salient and widespread effects of growing economic inequality. This study draws on interviews with Americans going through Chapter 13 bankruptcy to explore how middle class Americans (debtors in Chapter 13 nearly always come from the middle three quintiles of the income distribution) interpret economic failure and how these interpretations shape the way they view politics.
Wednesday, May 31, 2017