NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Women Lead In Bankruptcies

June 21, 1999

Studies show a dramatic rise in bankruptcy filings by women. While detailed data on bankruptcies are hard to come by, Harvard University law professor and bankruptcy expert Elizabeth Warren says filings by women have surpassed men and married couples in total numbers.

  • Women accounted for 39 percent of filings in the 12-month period ending March 31 -- compared to 28 percent of filings entered by men and 33 percent for married couples.
  • Warren says that if a women is divorced, she is 300 percent more likely to opt for bankruptcy.
  • Other experts cite the low incomes of many elderly women and their susceptibility to fraud.
  • Last year, Oliver Pollack, a history professor and bankruptcy lawyer in Omaha, released a study finding the proportion of women filing in Nebraska had increased from 14.6 percent in 1967 to 32.4 percent in 1997.

Congress is considering legislation that would make it harder to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection -- which wipes out most debt, including credit card debt.

Source: Christine Dugas, "Women Rank 1st in Bankruptcy Filings," USA Today, June 21, 1999.


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