Personal bankruptcy regulation and redistributive taxes and transfers vary considerably across U.S. states and over time. Our hypothesis is that both policies are imperfect substitutes in insuring consumption of risk-averse agents in incomplete markets. Exploiting data variation over time for 18 U.S. states for the period 1980-2003, we find considerable support for this hypothesis: redistributive taxation and bankruptcy exemptions are negatively correlated, and both policies are associated with more equal consumption growth. (c) 2009 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.