Household Finance

Household Finance

SIF163 Household Finance

Project Manager: Mike Gallmeyer

BoV Approved: Summer 2019

The purpose of this proposal is to build research infrastructure in the field of household finance.

Project Dates: 12/01/2019 – 11/30/2022

Funding Awarded: $219,585

Executive Summary

How do people spend their money and why do they make the choices to buy certain things, save, etc.? Those are the questions a team from McIntire is seeking to answer. Their goal is to help students and others understand their choices and examine how they spend their money. They hope that their research will help both current students and generations to come, and will help establish UVA as a leader in household finance research.

Current Status: Completed


Household finance began to emerge as a distinct field of economics, finance, and real estate about 15 years ago. The social and economic impact of COVID-19 has further accelerated interest in household finance scholarship. Overall, the discipline has focused on questions relating to how households make decisions about saving, borrowing, and investing their resources, and how these decisions are shaped by a multitude of social, economic, and political forces. The goal of the Household Finance Project is to provide a platform for UVA researchers, primarily through datasets, to be at the forefront of research in household finance.

We have acquired the datasets that were in our original and subsequently updated plans with the primary database being Experian Credit Bureau Data, a database that provides a comprehensive view of the financial status of U.S. households. Following the signing of the agreement in Fall 2020, and Quality Assurance tests carried out during Spring 2021, the data was obtained by UVA in late Spring 2021. Information about the data has been shared with interested researchers at McIntire, Darden, and the Department of Engineering Systems.

The broader UVA research community can now access the data through two channels, although providing unfettered access on UVA Research Computing infrastructure remains a challenge. In a pilot program sponsored by the Darden School of Business, the Experian Credit Bureau data is being hosted on a Microsoft Azure SQL Server outside of the UVA Research Computing infrastructure. Complementary datasets which are publicly available (e.g. on labor markets, mortgage applications and bank regulation) are also being added to server. Researchers across Darden will soon be able to access these data in a unified environment as the pilot is scaled up. 

We continue to work with UVA Research Computing to find the most economically feasible solution to make the household finance data more widely available to UVA researchers. In the interim, the raw data files reside on Rivanna, and researchers across UVA can access them upon reaching out to Sanket Korgaonkar. For example, researchers in the Marketing Area at McIntire are currently working with the data on Rivanna.

Overall, the Experian dataset continues to facilitate research in household finance and the related fields of banking, labor, and urban economics. While the specific research questions studied have evolved through exploration and experimentation, the project is making progress on its primary goal. In the next section we provide more detail on three of the research questions being actively pursued as of this report. To maintain the project’s long-term viability, the Household Finance Project is being rolled into the Real Estate and Household Finance Research Lab, which is a joint research lab sponsored by McIntire’s Center for Investors and Financial Markets (CIFM) and the Center for Real Estate and the Build Environment (CREBE).