Michelle J. White

Research Professor, University of California, San Diego,
Research Associate, NBER

Department of Economics
University of California, San Diego
9500 Gilman Dr.
La Jolla CA 92093-0508
Phone: (858) 534-2783;
E-mail: miwhite AT ucsd.edu

Biographical sketch:

A fairly complete list of published articles:

Downloadable papers by area (including working papers and articles):

I. Personal and corporate bankruptcy

  • "Financial Distress Among the Elderly: Bankruptcy Reform and the Financial Crisis," with Wenli Li, Remaking Retirement: Debt in an Aging Economy, Oxford University Press, 2020.

  • "The Treatment of Secured Credit in Bankruptcy," Research Handbook on Corporate Bankruptcy Law, Barry Adler, editor, Elgar, 2020.

  • "Small Business Bankruptcy," Annual Review of Financial Economics, volume 8, 2016, pp 317-336.

  • "Using Bankruptcy To Reduce Foreclosures: Does Strip-Down of Mortgages Affect the Supply of Mortgage Credit?" with Wenli Li and Ishani Tewari. NBER working paper 19952, November 2014 (revised) and Journal of Financial Services Research, vol. 55, pp. 59-87 (2019).

  • "Using Bankruptcy to Reduce Foreclosures," with Wenli Li and Ishani Tewari, CESifo Dice Report, September 2014. This is a short summary of the previous paper.

  • "How Bankruptcy Contributed to the Mortgage Crisis and How It Could Help The Economy Recover," with Wenli Li. The Occupy Handbook," Janet Byrne, editor. Back Bay Books/Little, Brown and Co., 2012.

  • "Economics of Corporate and Personal Bankruptcy Law," Oxford Handbook of Law and Economics, Francesco Parisi, editor. Oxford University Press.

  • "Did Bankruptcy Reform Cause Mortgage Defaults to Rise?" with Wenli Li and Ning Zhu. NBER working paper 15968. Published in American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 2011.

  • "Bankruptcy Reform in 2005 Exacerbated the Mortgage Crisis," with Wenli Li and Ning Zhu. NBER Digest, August 2010. This is a short summary of the previous paper.

  • "Corporate and Personal Bankruptcy Law," Annual Review of Law and Social Science, vol. 7, 2011.

  • "Bankruptcy, mortgage default, and foreclosure," VOXEU.org article, posted December 1, 2009. This is a short summary of the next paper.

  • "Mortgage Default, Foreclosures and Bankruptcy," with Wenli Li. Presented at the IMF Jacques Polak Annual Research Conference, November 2009.

  • Talk at the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, Las Vegas (pdf file of powerpoint slides), October 2009.

  • "Bankruptcy: Past Puzzles, Recent Reforms, and the Mortgage Crisis." This is a revised version of my presidential address, given at the American Law and Economics Association's 18th Annual Meeting, May 2008. NBER working paper 14549. American Law and Economics Review, Spring 2009.

  • "Saving Your Home in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy," with Ning Zhu. NBER working paper 14179. Journal of Legal Studies, vol. 39:1, pp. 33-61, January 2010. Theory appendix for this paper .

  • "Did Bankruptcy Reform Increase Financial Distress?" NBER Digest, November 2007. Summary of "Bankruptcy Reform and Credit Cards" (below).

  • "Bankruptcy Reform and Credit Cards," NBER working paper 13265, August 2007. J. of Economic Perspectives, Fall 2007, pp. 175-199.

  • "Consumer Bankruptcy in the USA and in France," Economie publique/Public Economics, no. 18-19, pp. 3-27, 2006.

  • "Bankruptcy Reform Gave Creditors Too Much," Opinion piece in Washington Post online edition, August 21, 2006.

  • "Abuse or Protection?" Regulation vol. 29:3, pp. 28-35, Fall 2006.

  • "Abuse or Protection: The Economics of Bankruptcy Reform under BAPCPA," University of Illinois Law Review, vol. 2007:1, pp. 275-304 (2007).

  • "Bankruptcy and Small Business -- Lessons from the U.S. and Recent Reforms," in CESifo DICE Report, 2006.

  • "Economic Analysis of Corporate and Personal Bankruptcy Law," NBER working paper 11536, July 2005. Published as "Bankruptcy Law," in Handbook of Law and Economics, edited by A.M. Polinsky and Steven Shavell. Elsevier.

  • "Economics of Corporate and Personal Bankruptcy Law." In The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, 2nd edition, 2008. (This is a much shorter version of the previous paper.)

  • "Personal Bankruptcy: Insurance, Work Effort, Opportunism and the Efficiency of the 'Fresh Start'." Preliminary draft presented at the Am. Law & Economics Assn. Conference, New York, May 2005.

  • "Bankruptcy and Consumer Behavior: Theory and Evidence From the U.S. In The Economics of Consumer Credit, edited by Giuseppe Bertola, Richard Disney, and Charles Grant. MIT Press, 2006.

  • "Bankruptcy and Small Firms' Access to Credit," with Jeremy Berkowitz. RAND J. of Economics, vol. 35:1, pp. 69-84, Spring 2004. (NBER working paper number 9010.) Stata file of variables not in the NSSBF dataset.
  • List of Variables.

  • "Personal Bankruptcy and the Level of Entrepreneurial Activity," with Wei Fan. Journal of Law & Economics, vol. 46:2, October 2003, pp. 543-568. (NBER working paper 9340.)

  • "Bankruptcy and the Market for Mortgage and Home Improvement Loans," with Emily Y. Lin. Journal of Urban Economics, vol. 50:1, July 2001 (138-162).

  • "The Household Bankruptcy Decision," with Scott Fay and Erik Hurst, American Economic Review, vol. 92:3, June 2002, pp. 708-718. Link to data for this paper.

  • "An Optimal Personal Bankruptcy System and Proposed Reforms," with Hung-jen Wang. Journal of Legal Studies, vol. XXIX(1), January 2000, pp. 255-286. Programs and parameter values for this paper.
  • "Bankruptcy and Small Business." Regulation, vol. 24:2, Summer 2001.

  • "Sovereigns in Distress: Do They Need Bankruptcy?" Brookings Papers on Economic Activity , issue 1, 2002, pp. 287-319.

  • "What's Wrong with Personal Bankruptcy Law and How to Fix It," Regulation, vol. 22:3, Fall 1999.

  • "Why It Pays to File for Bankruptcy: A Critical Look at Incentives under U.S. Bankruptcy Laws and A Proposal for Change," University of Chicago Law Review, vol. 65:3, pp. 685-732, Summer 1998. SAS dataset used in this paper.
  • SAS program used in this paper.

  • "Why Don't More Households File for Bankruptcy?" Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, vol. 14:2, pp. 205-231, October 1998. (Note: data and program used in this paper are the same as those listed above for Univ. of Chic. L.R. paper.)

  • "Personal Bankruptcy and Credit Supply and Demand," with R. Gropp and J.K. Scholz, in Quarterly Journal of Economics, vol. 112, pp. 217-251, Feb. 1997.

  • "The Costs of Corporate Bankruptcy: A U.S.-European Comparison," in Corporate Bankruptcy: Economic and Legal Perspectives. J. Bhandari and L. Weiss, eds. Cambridge University Press, 1996. Tables for this paper.
  • "Corporate Bankruptcy," in The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics and the Law, P. Newman, ed. Macmillan Press, 1998.

  • "Corporate Bankruptcy as a Filtering Device: Chapter 11 Reorganizations and Out-of-Court Debt Restructurings," J. of Law, Economics and Organization, vol. 10, Oct. 1994, pp. 268-295.

  • "Bankruptcy Costs and the New Bankruptcy Code," J. of Finance, vol. 38, May 1983, pp. 477-488.

  • "Public Policy Toward Bankruptcy: Me-First and Other Priority Rules," Bell J. of Economics, vol. 11:2, Autumn 1980, pp. 550-564.

  • "The Corporate Bankruptcy Decision," J. of Economic Perspectives, vol. 3, Spring 1989, pp. 129-152.

    II. Asbestos litigation

  • "Mass Tort Litigation: Asbestos" (revised version), Encyclopedia of Law and Economics, Springer Science, 2019.

  • "Mass Tort Litigation: Asbestos," Encyclopedia of Law and Economics, Springer Science, 2014.

  • "Asbestos Litigation: Procedural Innovations and Forum-Shopping," August 2005. Journal of Legal Studies, vol. 35, no. 2, pp. 365-398, June 2006. NBER working paper 9362, December 2002.

  • "Asbestos and the Future of Mass Torts," Journal of Economic Perspectives, vol. 18:2, Spring 2004. NBER working paper 10308, February 2004.

  • "Resolving the 'Elephantine Mass'," Regulation, Summer 2003.

  • "Why the Asbestos Genie Won't Stay in the Bankruptcy Bottle." University of Cincinnati Law Review, vol. 70:4, Summer 2002, pp. 1319-1340.

    III. Public and urban economics

  • "Fiscal Zoning and Sales Taxes: Do Higher Sales Taxes Lead to More Retailing and Less Manufacturing?" with Daria Burnes and David Neumark. NBER working paper 16932. A summary of this paper appeared in the NBER Digest, August 2011. To be published in National Tax Journal. Appendix Tables.

  • "Property Tax Limitations and Mobility: The Lock-In Effect of California's Proposition 13," with Nada Wasi. NBER working paper 11108, February 2005. Brookings-Wharton Papers on Urban Affairs, pp. 59-88, Fall 2005.

  • "The `Arms Race' on American Roads: The Effect of Sport Utility Vehicles and Pickup Trucks on Traffic Safety." Journal of Law & Economics, October 2004, vol. XLVII(2), pp. 333-356. For a description of this article, see "Are bigger vehicles safer? It depends on whether you're a passenger or a target," by Hal R. Varian, New York Times, Dec. 18, 2003, p. C2. NBER working paper 9302, Nov. 2002, is an earlier version.

  • "In-State versus Out-of-State Students: The Divergence of Interest between Public Universities and State Governments,'' with Jeff Groen. NBER working paper 9603, April 2003. J. of Public Economics, vol. 88:9-10, pp. 1793-1814, August 2004.

  • "Urban Models with Decentralized Employment: Theory and Empirical Work," in Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, vol. 3, Applied Urban Economics. Paul Cheshire and Edwin Mills, eds., Elsevier Science, 1999.

  • "Measuring the Benefits of Homeowning: Effects on Children," with Richard K. Green, J. of Urban Economics, vol. 41, 1997, pp. 441-461.

  • "Why are Taxes So Complex and Who Benefits? Tax Notes, vol. 47, April 16, 1990, p. 341.

  • "Urban Commuting is Not Wasteful," J. of Political Economy, vol. 96:5, October 1988, pp. 1097-1110.

  • "Location Choice and Commuting Behavior in Cities with Decentralized Employment," J. of Urban Economics, vol. 24, September 1988, pp. 129-152.

  • "Sex Differences in Urban Commuting Patterns." American Economic Review, May 1986.

  • "Spatial Implications of Increases in the Female Labor Force: A Theoretical and Empirical Synthesis," with Janice F. Madden. Land Economics, vol. 56, 432-446, November 1980.

  • "A Model of Residential Location Choice and Commuting by Men and Women Workers," J. of Regional Science, vol. 17:1, April 1977, pp. 41-52.

  • "The Effect of Zoning on Land Value," with James Ohls and Richard Weisberg, J. of Urban Economics, vol. 1:4, 1974, pp. 428-444.

    IV: Law & Economics

  • "No-fault for Motor Vehicles: An Economic Analysis," with Yu-ping Liao. American Law and Economics Review, vol.4:2, 2002, pp. 258-294.

  • "Empirical Comparisons of the Contributory versus Comparative Negligence Rules," in The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics and the Law, P. Newman, ed. Macmillan Press, 1998.

  • "Medical Malpractice: An Empirical Examination of the Litigation Process," with Henry Farber. RAND J. of Economics, vol. 22:2, 1991, pp. 199-217.

  • "Legal Complexity and Lawyers' Benefit from Litigation," International Rev. of Law and Economics, vol. 12:3, 1992, pp. 381-395.

  • "The Value of Liability in Medical Malpractice," Health Affairs, vol. 13:4, Fall 1994, pp. 75-87.

  • "Contract Breach and Contract Discharge Due to Impossibility: A Unified Theory," Journal of Legal Studies, vol. 17:2. 1988, pp. 353-376.

  • "An Empirical Test of the Comparative and Contributory Negligence Rules in Accident Law," RAND J. of Economics, vol. 20:3, 1989, pp. 308-330.


  • "Scaling Fortress Economics: A Reminiscence of the Bad Old Days," Published in Eminent Economists II, Michael Szenberg and Lall Ramrattan, editors. Cambridge University Press, 2012.