Debt and older people: how age affects attitudes to borrowingAuthors: 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:
- To explore the extent and nature of borrowing among older people; including the characteristics of those who have mortgage and consumer credit commitments and how they differ from those who owe no money at all.
- To ascertain the extent to which older people are in financial difficulties and the role that borrowing plays in this, relative to other factors.
- To determine the extent to which older people consider their level of borrowing to be a burden and identify the factors that are correlated with this.
- To look at changes over time in the proportion of older people who owe money in unsecured or secured borrowing; who say that they face financial difficulties and who say that their borrowing is a burden.
- Identify the policy implications that derive from the research.
The study involved a review of previous research, coupled with secondary analysis of existing survey data.
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