The group most out of step on walking away from mortgages

Thomas Lifson
Pew released a very interesting poll Wednesday that provides a revealing look at American values and a particular demographic group that is out of step with the rest. The topic could hardly be more relevant to the economic crisis that has caused so much suffering: attitudes toward walking away from mortgages - in other words shirking the obligation to pay back the lender for funds received.

Overall, a solid (but far from unanimous) majority of Americans disapproves of stiff-arming the contractual obligation voluntarily entered into. For most of us, a mortgage is the largest single financial transaction of our lives. Pew reports:

A majority of Americans say it is "unacceptable" for homeowners to stop making their mortgage payments and abandon their homes, according to a Pew Research Center survey. But more than a third (36%) say the practice of "walking away" from a home mortgage is acceptable, at least under certain circumstances.

Nearly six-in-ten (59%) believe it is wrong for homeowners to deliberately stop paying their mortgages and surrender their homes to the mortgage lender, according to the survey of 2,967 adults conducted May 11-31.

But two-in-ten (19%) say it's acceptable and an additional 17% volunteer that it depends on the circumstances.



But for me the most fascinating aspect of the study is that, with one single exception, most demographic segments of the population share roughly the same opinion distribution.

While some demographic groups are more likely than others to say it's okay to walk away -- among them, Hispanics, adults younger than age 65 and those living in the West -- these differences are mostly modest.

For example, nearly a quarter (24%) of all Hispanics say it's acceptable to abandon a mortgage, compared with 17% of whites and 21% of blacks. However, roughly similar majorities of Hispanics (58%), blacks (56%) and whites (61%) say it's wrong to do so.

So which group is most out of step on shirking life's largest financial commitment? You guessed it -- Democrats.

There are sharp differences by partisanship. Democrats are about twice as likely as Republicans to say it is acceptable to walk away (23% vs. 11%)


Hat tip: Blondie

Pew released a very interesting poll Wednesday that provides a revealing look at American values and a particular demographic group that is out of step with the rest. The topic could hardly be more relevant to the economic crisis that has caused so much suffering: attitudes toward walking away from mortgages - in other words shirking the obligation to pay back the lender for funds received.

Overall, a solid (but far from unanimous) majority of Americans disapproves of stiff-arming the contractual obligation voluntarily entered into. For most of us, a mortgage is the largest single financial transaction of our lives. Pew reports:

A majority of Americans say it is "unacceptable" for homeowners to stop making their mortgage payments and abandon their homes, according to a Pew Research Center survey. But more than a third (36%) say the practice of "walking away" from a home mortgage is acceptable, at least under certain circumstances.

Nearly six-in-ten (59%) believe it is wrong for homeowners to deliberately stop paying their mortgages and surrender their homes to the mortgage lender, according to the survey of 2,967 adults conducted May 11-31.

But two-in-ten (19%) say it's acceptable and an additional 17% volunteer that it depends on the circumstances.



But for me the most fascinating aspect of the study is that, with one single exception, most demographic segments of the population share roughly the same opinion distribution.

While some demographic groups are more likely than others to say it's okay to walk away -- among them, Hispanics, adults younger than age 65 and those living in the West -- these differences are mostly modest.

For example, nearly a quarter (24%) of all Hispanics say it's acceptable to abandon a mortgage, compared with 17% of whites and 21% of blacks. However, roughly similar majorities of Hispanics (58%), blacks (56%) and whites (61%) say it's wrong to do so.

So which group is most out of step on shirking life's largest financial commitment? You guessed it -- Democrats.

There are sharp differences by partisanship. Democrats are about twice as likely as Republicans to say it is acceptable to walk away (23% vs. 11%)


Hat tip: Blondie