Debt and older people: how age affects attitudes to borrowing

Authors: Professor Stephen McKay, Professor Elaine Kempson, Adele Atkinson, Mark Crame
Funded by: Help the Aged, Barclays Bank
Published by: Help the Aged
Publication date: March 2008

Levels of consumer borrowing attract much attention, with Bank of England figures showing UK consumers now owe more than £1 trillion.

Help The Aged has commented in the media that we may have the first generation of older people going into retirement with the worry of debt. However, whilst there is much interest around debt issues, there remains little quantitative academic work explicitly focused on assessing whether, and to what extent, older people may be increasingly finding themselves with debt related problems.

The overall aim of this study therefore was to examine the level of financial difficulties among people aged over fifty, and especially among the over-sixties, and to identify the role that borrowing plays in this. Within this, the study had the following more specific objectives related to borrowing:

The study involved a review of previous research, coupled with secondary analysis of existing survey data.

Debt and older people: how age affects attitudes to borrowing [ Full report (PDF, 2,635kB) | Executive summary (PDF, 966kB) ]

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