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Bankruptcy Filer Demographics

Since the recession began, the face of the average personal bankruptcy filer has changed. More people are seeking bankruptcy protection each year, and the come from different walks of life.

With a weak economy, high unemployment and stricter credit lending, millions of Americans have found themselves with far more debt than they are able to carry. U.S. bankruptcy laws provide protections for individuals in this situation.

If you are finding it difficult to manage your debt load, connect with a bankruptcy attorney today and learn about your options under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Simply fill out the case review form below to get started now.

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Bankruptcy Filers: Older, Rich and Well Educated?

The Institute for Financial Literacy compiles an annual report of the demographics of bankruptcy filers, going back to late 2005 when the new bankruptcy law, BAPCPA, went into effect. The trends in these report go against some popular misconceptions about bankruptcy filers, and highlight the wide-reaching effect of the economic downturn that began in 2007.


In 2006, filing personal bankruptcy was a younger person's endeavor. Half of all filers were between the ages 25 and 44, and only 22 percent were over 55. In 2009, it was a much more level playing field. One in four were over 55. Filers under 24 fell from 3.3 percent of all filings to a mere 1.8 percent.


While the majority of bankruptcy filers have either not gone to college or never graduated (roughly two-thirds), the portion of filers with higher degrees has significantly grown since 2006. Associate's degree holder rose from 8 to 8.6 percent; Bachelor's degree holders from 11.2 to 13.9 percent; and Graduate degree holders from 4.9 to 6.3 percent.


Less-educated, lower-earning Americans are statistically more like to file fore bankruptcy protection each year, but those earning higher wages are becoming more likely to file bankruptcy over the years. Those filers earning less than 30K annually fell from 65.6 percent in 2006 to 59.3 in 2009. Those filers in the top earning class, 60K and above, saw the greatest growth, from 5.5 to 9.1 percent in that same time.


According to the study, Caucasians make up nearly three-quarters of all personal bankruptcy filers in the U.S. Latinos and Asian-Americans are increasingly each making up a larger share of total filings. Latino filers have risen from 6.6 percent in 2006 to 7.2 in 2009. Asian-American filers have risen from 2.1 percent to 4 percent in that same time.


Part of the study asked responders to list the issues that lead them to seeking bankruptcy protection. Over-extension of credit, unemployment and reduction of income saw the most growth over the period. Unexpected expenses, the second-most popular choice in 2006, fell sharply, suggesting that a lack of resources, and not necessarily poor financial planning, led many consumers to file bankruptcy.

Could Bankruptcy Help You? Ask an Attorney Today

As the statistics show, there many types of people file bankruptcy. U.S. bankruptcy laws are designed to help people who find themselves in an unsustainable financial situation and provide a fresh start.

If you are curious whether bankruptcy laws could help you, connect with a local bankruptcy attorney today for a free, no-obligation consultation. You may find that bankruptcy is the debt-relief situation that's right for you. Simply fill out the bankruptcy case review form below to get started.

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