Part of the Borrowing to Make Ends Meet series, this brief documents the rise in credit card and mortgage debt between 1992 and 2001, and examines the factors contributing to older Americans’ increased reliance on credit cards. Looking at debt increases by income, race and age, the authors found that some populations were hit harder than others.

September 8, 2004

In This Report, You’ll Learn

  1. 1

    An overview of indebted seniors (over 65) and transitioners (55-64 years old).

  2. 2

    An analysis of what’s driving credit card debt.

  3. 3

    How the financial health of pre-retirees predicts retirement success.

  4. 4

    Policy recommendations to help families who have come to rely on credit cards to meet basic needs.

Key Takeaway

Seniors' Economic Insecurity and credit card debt

Unexpected or unaffordable costs present a difficult choice for older Americans on fixed incomes: borrow, or go without. For many, credit cards have become a safety net while incurring sky-high costs and the prospect of endless debt payoff.

Percent of Senior Households With Credit Cards and Percent of Senior Cardholding Households With Credit Card Debt, 1992-2001

Findings & Stats

Statements & Quotations