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Birkbeck researcher receives ESRC grant to explore link between COVID-19 and household debt

Professor Emmanuel Mamatzakis is leading a project to investigate why households repaid their debt during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Picture of houses in London.

The Department of Management’s Professor Emmanuel Mamatzakis has been awarded as principal investigator an £102,974 grant by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of UK Research Innovation’s rapid response to COVID-19, to conduct a study exploring the relationship between COVID-19 and household debt.

Entitled ‘Why do households repay their debt during COVID-19 crisis? Well-being and financial implications’, the study will examine the impacts of COVID-19 policy interventions on household debt repayments and financial resilience.

Bank of England statistics show that households repaid £7.4 billion of consumer credit in April 2020, the largest net repayment on record. Researchers at Birkbeck, University of London, University of Zurich and Lancaster University will explore the role of monetary expansion, debt repayment moratoriums, lockdowns and furloughing in household debt repayment, controlling for specific characteristics such as ethnicity, age, gender, health and employment.

The study will also examine persistence on both household debt repayments and debt exposure. Recent statistics show that British households have increased their debt exposure by £6 billion as they fall behind on credit card payments, council tax and utility bills. The study will deliver evidence and projections that will inform policy making decisions in real time and enhance impact.

Professor Mamatzakis said: “I am thrilled to have received this award and would like to thank my colleagues in the Department of Management and the School of Business, Economics and Informatics who shared their knowledge and experience in applying for funding with me, provided feedback and supported me through the application process.”

Dr Geoff Walters, Executive Dean of the School of Business, Economics and Informatics said: “I am delighted that Professor Mamatzakis has received this award. Understanding the impact of policy interventions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic will be crucial in finding the best way forward and it is excellent to see this important research recognised by the ESRC.”

The project will run from November 2020 until January 2022.

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