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Changing Demographics of Bankruptcy Filers

In the 12-year span from October 1, 2005, to September 30, 2017, about 12.8 million consumer bankruptcy petitions were filed in the federal courts, (U.S. Courts). That breaks down to almost a million consumers a year. If you were one of the millions who did find the need to file, did you feel alone or like it was the end of the world? Chances are you didn’t know anyone who had filed before as it is not a common topic of discussion at the dinner table, right? It certainly was NOT the end of the world.

In recent years the face of bankruptcy is changing as our country is dealing with massive economic, technology, and medical coverage shifts. Consider the tariff war that is currently being waged with China, the looming changes in technology, and the millions of people who face medical emergencies that could wipe them out in an instant. Each of these events is shifting the demographics of who is being impacted by bankruptcy.

According to the United States Courts, overall bankruptcy filings peaked in 2010 following the last recession (December 2007 to June 2009). Chapter 7 consumer bankruptcy filings have declined since 2010, (see Chart 1) and Chapter 13 filings have leveled off in the last few years.

In general, bankruptcy affects people of all walks of life and income levels. It affects married and single people, and age is no barrier. This includes seniors and those just starting out in life. However, over the past several years, researchers have noted key changes in the typical bankruptcy petitioner. Today, the average filer is older and married, has a high school education and makes less than $30,000 a year.

Since the early 1990s, bankruptcy has been used with increasing frequency by older individuals. While more senior citizens are declaring bankruptcy, a decreasing percentage of filers are younger than 25. Roughly equal numbers of men and women file bankruptcy, with a ratio of 48-to-52. Over the last few years, the gap has been shrinking.

Where do you fit into the changing demographics? Has the shift in technology use in business cost you a job? Has a medical emergency cost you your savings? Have government tariffs put a strain on your income? Talk to us about your financial situation and let us see if we can alleviate the stress. Call the Law Office of Barry R. Levine and let us help you. Call us at 978-922-8440, or visit our website at