Financial Collapse and Class Status: Who Goes Bankrupt?

28 Pages Posted: 27 Dec 2003


Every policy prescription, economic analysis, or news report about consumer bankruptcy rests on one or another unspoken image of the estimated 1.6 million families that will file in a single year. Data from the 2001 Consumer Bankruptcy Project permit a systematic analysis of the composition of those who file for personal bankruptcy, focusing on their educations, occupations and home ownership status. These attributes serve as a proxy for class identification. Based on these indicia, more than 90 percent of the families in bankruptcy qualify as middle class. These data are a powerful reminder that whatever else might be said about those in bankruptcy, these people are not some sub-group of Americans safely distanced from the middle class, but instead are co-workers, neighbors and families woven throughout the fabric of American society.

Suggested Citation

Warren, Elizabeth, Financial Collapse and Class Status: Who Goes Bankrupt?. Available at SSRN: or

Elizabeth Warren (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-3101 (Phone)
617-496-6118 (Fax)

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