Abstract

Redemption laws give mortgagors the right to redeem their property following default for a statutorily set period of time. This paper develops a theory that explains these laws as a means of protecting landowners against the loss of nontransferable values associated with their land. A longer redemption period reduces the risk that this value will be lost but also increases the likelihood of default. The optimal redemption period balances these effects. Empirical analysis of cross-state data from the early twentieth century suggests that these factors, in combination with political considerations, explain the existence and length of redemption laws.

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