The Morality of Mortgages

With anger at banks high and many homeowners unable to make their overvalued rent payments, the Pew Research Center asked 2,967 respondents whether they thought it was "acceptable or unacceptable for people to walk away from their mortgages" and let banks foreclose on their homes. 19% said it was acceptable, 59% said it was unacceptable while 17% volunteered that the morality depends on the circumstances.

The New York Times looked into some of the more detailed demographic breakdown of those who think it is acceptable or unacceptable to cease making mortgage payments. Among the more interesting findings, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to find it "acceptable" to walk away from their mortgage. Those who rent are more likely than those who actually own homes to find it acceptable, and among homeowners, those who have experienced problems paying bills of any kind are unsurprisingly less likely to judge those who struggle to make mortgage payments.

To put questions about the morality of default in perspective, Bloomberg reports that 12% of defaults are strategic decisions made by debtors who can afford to make their payments In 2007, only 4% of defaults were strategic.

The poll had a 95% confidence interval of +/-2.2%. Detailed information can be downloaded here.
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