What Determines Bankruptcy and Who Does It Affect?

Bankruptcy is not a chosen financial strategy. It’s often a last resort. Think of bankruptcy as a financial recovery blanket when other options have been exhausted.

Bankruptcy is a blanket that keeps you warm 100% of the time, but if applied correctly, it will, over time, heat up your financial recovery and allow you a new financial beginning.

To become more aware of what determines bankruptcy and who it affects, take a look at the following trending statistics dating back to the 1980s.

Bankruptcy numbers and findings

  1. Personal bankruptcy filings reached their highest point in 2005 (2,039,214 filings), peaked again in 2010 (1,536,799) when the Great Recession hit and have been trending down ever since. The most recently released numbers show there were 765,863 filings of personal bankruptcy in 2017.
  2. The most commonly filed personal bankruptcy choice is Chapter 7, or also referred to as “liquidation” or “straight” bankruptcy. While this option is the most common (over 470,000 filings in 2017), it has repercussions that include the liquidation of your assets to pay your debts and a significant hit to your credit score for up to 10 years. Each state determines its own exempt and non-exempt assets.
  3. Californians led the way in 2018 with over 66,000 bankruptcy filings.
  4. Minnesotans filed for bankruptcy 9,757 times
  5. As has been the trend for many years, individuals aged 35-54 continue to register for bankruptcy more than any other age group
  6. There isn’t much disparity is bankruptcy filings based on gender. In 2010, 47.74% of filers were men, while 52.26% of registrants were women.
  7. A large segment of those who choose bankruptcy are married couples.
  8. Individuals with some college experience (28.73%) or a high school degree/GED (36.27%) are most likely to become subject to bankruptcy at some point in their lives
  9. Nearly 60% of bankruptcy filers earn an annual income of $30,000 or less

The most common causes that lead to bankruptcy

  • Credit card debt
  • Loss of income
  • Unanticipated expenses
  • Loss of job
  • Illness or injury
  • Divorce
  • The birth or adoption of a child
  • The death of a family member
  • Retirement
  • Identity theft

Don’t let the numbers scare you. As they show, hundreds of thousands of Americans choose bankruptcy as an option to relieve their debt burdens, learn more about financial literacy and start fresh.