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Household Debt and Economic Crises

Causes, Consequences and Remedies

Heikki Hiilamo

The trajectories of increasing household debt are studied in the contexts of the US and the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Finland and Norway. Household Debt and Economic Crises examines remedies to prevent and alleviate the over-indebtedness epidemic, creating a conceptual framework with which to analyse the causes and consequences of debt. Hiilamo argues that social policies are needed to tackle the current borrowing crisis that endangers and prevents the full participation in society of individuals with excessive debts.
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Chapter 5: How to prevent and alleviate debt problems

Heikki Hiilamo


Modern societies encompass a number of policies and programmes to prevent over-indebtedness and to alleviate its consequences. To put it simply, reversing the causes of over-indebtedness can help prevent it, while policies to tackle the consequences of debt problems may assist in alleviating them. This chapter focuses on three policy areas to prevent over-indebtedness, namely regulating financial markets, good lending practices and improving financial literacy. With regard to alleviating the consequences of over-indebtedness the chapter discusses swift debt discharge, debt counselling, debt collection practices and, finally, welfare state policies. The main focus of analysis is on swift debt discharge and possibilities to introduce the US model of swift debt discharge in Europe.

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