Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Financial Collapse and Class Status: Who Goes Bankrupt?

28 Pages Posted: 27 Dec 2003  

Elizabeth Warren

Harvard Law School


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?. Osgoode Hall Law Review, Vol. 41, No. 1, p. 114, Spring 2003. 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)

Paper statistics

Abstract Views