Surprising Bankruptcy Statistics

October 26, 2009

American author Mark Twain was fond of saying, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." While it is important to scrutinize any statistic with a healthy dose of skepticism, bankruptcy statistics can help attorneys, courts, creditors, and even debtors understand who is filing bankruptcy and the reasons.

Today’s post will examine some bankruptcy statistics from a major study of bankruptcy debtors by Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren entitled The Fragile Middle Class: Americans in Debt. This study found some surprising statistics:

● the average age of a bankruptcy filer is 38
● couples filing jointly make-up 44% of all bankruptcy filings. 30% of the filers are
women filing bankruptcy alone, and 26% of the bankruptcy filers are men filing alone
● most bankruptcy filers are slightly better educated than the general population
● two out of three bankruptcy filers have lost a job
● half of all bankruptcy filers have experienced a serious health problem
● 91% of bankruptcy filers have suffered a job loss, medical event or divorce
● 40% of bankruptcies result from medical crises, unemployment or divorces
● 90% of these filers have two car payments, a house payment, and an average of $2500
in credit card debt
● 10% of filers were delinquent only 5 to 29 days before bankruptcy

In 2008 there were 1,074,225 consumer bankruptcy filings. For the second straight year, Tennessee had the overall highest per capita rate of filings, with 7.65 filings per 1,000 residents. Put another way, that’s one-and-a-half people out of 200, per year.

While these bankruptcy statistics are enlightening and even useful, no two bankruptcy cases are the same. Unfortunately, some firms take a “one size fits all” approach to bankruptcy. If you are experiencing financial difficulty, seek out a qualified bankruptcy attorney to explain your rights and treat your case with the care and attention you need and deserve. Don’t be treated like just another statistic.

Contact Fears | Nachawati today for a free consultation regarding your bankruptcy needs.  Call us at toll free 1.866.705.7584 or reach us by e-mail at

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