Michael Funke / Rongrong Sun / Linxu Zhu
Household borrowing in China has increased considerably in recent years, raising concerns about the household sector’s vulnerability and implications for the stability of the financial system. We construct a number of granular debt-burden indicators at the level of individual Chinese households and calculate the share of households that are financially vulnerable using the three available waves (2011, 2013 and 2015) of China’s Household Finance Survey. Overall loan-to-value (LTV) ratios appear safe and sound at first glance, but closer scrutiny reveals that Chinese households in the lowest income quintile face high vulnerability and struggle to meet their debt commitments. Our stress tests suggest that Chinese households in higher quintiles, despite the huge increase in household indebtedness, are not particularly vulnerable to declining incomes or falling house prices.