Retiring in the Red: The Growth of Debt Among Older Americans

Borrowing to Make Ends Meet

By the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Demos

September 8, 2004

Summary

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.

Table of Contents

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