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Higher Education, Income No Guarantee Against Bankruptcy

Consumer bankruptcy filings among college educated, high-income earners is on the rise.

September 30, 2011
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Neither a college education nor high-paying job is enough to protect consumers against filing for personal bankruptcy according to the 2010 Annual Consumer Bankruptcy Demographics Report by the Institute for Financial Literacy, a national nonprofit financial education and counseling organization based.

“The Great Recession has had a dramatic impact on the bankruptcy filings of American consumers across the economic spectrum, including college-educated, high-income earners,” said Leslie E. Linfield, executive director and founder of the Institute for Financial Literacy. “While less-educated, low-income individuals continue to represent the typical bankruptcy filer, this report underscores a sophisticated evolution of the profile of the American debtor that now extends to disparate age, income and ethnic groups.”

Key findings include:

  • College education doesn't appear to ward off bankruptcy as the rate of degree holders filing bankruptcy increased by 20%;
  • Bankruptcy filers earning incomes above $60,000 increased their rate of filing by more than 66%;
  • Asian American filings have doubled while Hispanic/Latino filings increased by more than one-third;
  • Americans age 34 and younger decreased the rate of filing bankruptcy by more than 30% since 2006;
  • Americans who are married represent more than 60% of all filings; and
  • The primary reasons for financial distress include overextension on credit, unexpected expenses, illness/injury, and divorce.

Check out this week’s Research Roundup:

• Census Bureau releases 2010 American Community Survey single year estimates

Clashes of money and values: A survey of admissions directors

Mathematica examines federal support for working-age people with disabilities

Growing U.S. trade deficit with China cost 2.8 million jobs between 2001 and 2010

Fact sheet: Living within our means and investing in the future—the President’s plan for economic growth and deficit reduction

Comparing compensation: State-local versus private sector workers

September 2011—MetroMonitor: Tracking economic recession and recovery in America’s 100 largest metropolitan areas

In U.S., significantly fewer 18- to 25-year-olds uninsured

In U.S., 6 in 10 do not expect economy to improve soon

Gallup finds U.S. underemployment stuck at 18.5% in mid-Sept

Mass layoffs—August 2011

Check back for weekly Research Roundups.

LORA KLOTH is a research librarian in CUNA’s business-to-business publishing department.

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