Bankruptcy Rates Soar Among Older Americans

This week’s Sunday New York Times published new sobering statistics showing that Americans age 65 and older are filing for bankruptcy at three times the rate compared to 1991, according to a new study from the Consumer Bankruptcy Project, which found that the same age group also accounts for a far greater share of all filers.

Driving the surge, the study suggests, is a three-decade shift of financial risk from government and employers to individuals, who are bearing an ever-greater responsibility for their own financial well-being as the social safety net shrinks, according to New York Times reporter Tara Siegel Bernard.

The Consumer Bankruptcy Project is led by academics Deborah Thorne, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Idaho; Robert M. Lawless, a law professor at the University of Illinois; Pamela Foohey, a law professor at Indiana University; and Katherine Porter, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine. The project — which is financed by their universities — collects and analyzes court records on a continuing basis and follows up with written questionnaires.