Debt, Bankruptcy, and the Life Course

57 Pages Posted: 23 Oct 2009 Last revised: 26 Mar 2012

See all articles by Allison Mann

Allison Mann

Columbia University - Department of Sociology

Ronald J. Mann

Columbia University - Law School

Sophie Staples

Columbia University - Law School

Date Written: March 26, 2012

Abstract

This Essay considers the significance of credit markets and bankruptcy for life course mobility. Comparing parallel data from the 2007 Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) and the 2007 Consumer Bankruptcy Project (CBP), it analyzes use of the bankruptcy process as a function of the distribution of unplanned events, the ability of households to use credit markets to limit the adverse effects of such events, and barriers in access to the bankruptcy system. Our findings suggest two things. One, although the financial characteristics of filers vary markedly by age and race, bankrupt households generally come from the bottom quartiles of the population in assets and income and the top quartile in debt. Two, households neither attribute their bankruptcies to the same causes nor use the same strategies to avert bankruptcy. Age- and race-based variations are consistent with disparate racial access to markets and institutions and the increased incidence of financial activity among the elderly.

Keywords: financial distress, bankruptcy, life course, consumer credit, SCF, CBP

JEL Classification: K20

Suggested Citation

Mann, Allison and Mann, Ronald J. and Staples, Sophie, Debt, Bankruptcy, and the Life Course (March 26, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1492845 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1492845

Allison Mann (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Department of Sociology ( email )

606 West 122ND STREET
New York, NY 10027
United States

Ronald J. Mann

Columbia University - Law School ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10025
United States

Sophie Staples

Columbia University - Law School ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10025
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
162
rank
179,249
Abstract Views
1,934
PlumX Metrics