Gender gap narrows for bankruptcies

By The IJ Staff | October 08 2019 01:30PM

Photo: Freepik

The gender gap in consumer insolvency filings is narrowing, according to a study conducted by Hoyes, Michalos & Associates Inc.

"In 2012, 42% of insolvencies were filed by women," says Ted Michalos, a licensed insolvency trustee. "Today, that percentage has increased to 49%. What we see are women filing insolvency in increasing numbers, with less debt than men."

According to the study, the average female debtor files insolvency on $43,414 in unsecured debt, 21% less than male debtors. Women file insolvency with an unsecured debt-to-income ratio of 147%, much lower than the 177% for male debtors in the study.

Specific financial challenges

"Women face specific financial challenges that increase their reliance on debt yet make that same debt harder to manage" says Doug Hoyes, a licensed insolvency trustee. "When reviewing the risk profile of our average client, we found that women are more likely to be single parents, more likely to carry student debt, more likely to be divorced or separated and more likely to be widowed seniors than males filing insolvency."

On average, 26% of women filing insolvency in 2018 were single parents, more than 3 times that of male debtors (8%), says the study. At the same time, 22% carry student debt compared to just 13% for male debtors. More than 1 in 4 (26%) are divorced or separated versus 20% for male debtors. Among those 60 and older, 25% are widowed compared to 8% of male debtors.

Women filing insolvency earn 4.5% less, on average, than male debtors. This gap widens to 32% when comparing single women raising a family to the household income for two-parent families filing insolvency, says the study.

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